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What Children Learn Through Play

Updated on August 3, 2012
Playtime helps to develop basic skills.
Playtime helps to develop basic skills. | Source

The best way to start teaching your child is to let him/her have regular playtime each and every day. Children develop the basic skills through play that will help them to succeed as they grow. You may think all they are doing is having fun but they are actually beginning to set a solid foundation for reading, math, writing, etc.

General Areas of Basic Child Development

This is the way a child thinks and learns over time. Memory, Science, Math, and Problem Solving fall under this area.
Social and Emotional
This is how a child learns to get along with others and express their feelings.
This is how a child's body grows over time and learn to use their small and large muscles.
This is how a child learns to speak, listen, write, and read.

Learning through Play

If you ever watched closely at a child playing you will notice that they are doing more than just "playing" and having fun. By watching their actions you will notice studying, evaluation, problem solving, sharing information, communications, and the list goes on and on. These are the same actions that you see writers, scientists, artists, etc. doing. Play is the way children connect to vast amounts of learning!

Kamden and his picture of a deer!
Kamden and his picture of a deer! | Source

Developing Writing Skills

When a child scribbles it may not be easy for an adult to understand what it is suppose to be, but scribbles do have meaning. The lines and loops are very important to a child because this is their way of writing their thoughts. Drawing and scribbles are the first steps in using the skills that children will need later for writing.

You can encourage scribbling and drawing by setting out paper, pencils, crayons, and markers so that your child can draw whatever he would like to draw. It is best to use plain paper instead of coloring books so that your child can have the freedom to draw his own pictures and use his own ideas. By doing this you are helping him to begin developing his writing skills.

Developing Reading Skills

An easy way to help your child to develop reading skills is to read to your child every night. As you are reading to your child show him how to use his finger to follow words across a page from left to right and top to bottom. You should also look at the pictures and ask your child to tell what is happening in the story.

You can also play word games with children such as making up silly words that rhyme or picking out the beginning sounds of words. You can also play word games with opposites. My kids always loved playing these games especially with rhyming words.

By exploring fun activities that have to do with reading will help your child begin to develop the basic reading skills that will help them to become better readers later on!

Developing Math Skills

Counting with your child will help him to develop his math skills. You can count fingers, toes, blocks, rocks, or anything else your child wishes to count. You can have them arrange objects from smallest to largest. You can even ask simple math questions, for example; 1 truck + 1 truck = _____. (You can lay out an object for each part of the question)

These little steps help to start developing your child's mathematical skills.

How Play and Learning are Interwoven

Object/Material Played With:
Leads to:
Different sizes and shapes and how they fit together.
Math Skills
Small Blocks
Control of small muscles in their hands
Writing Skills
To look for differences between the picture and the background
Reading and Writing Skills
Beads to String
How to use their eyes and hands together
Writing Skills
Cause and Effect by mixing colors.
Science Skills
To explore the size and shape of container when filled with different amounts of water
Math and Science Skills
Wet and Dry Sand
Cause and Effect when water changes sand to something new and different
Science Skills
Dress-Up Clothes
Ways to think about how others act, think, and feel
Problem Solving Skills and Using Their Imagination
Control of hand musles, use of sense of touch, use of imagination
Writing and Problem Solving Skills

Getting Ready for School

You are helping your child to become ready for school by helping them develop these skills through playtime with you. By giving your child a jump start with their develop you will help your child to transition more easily into a learning environment such as Pre-School or Kindergarten.

You are your child's first teacher so play with them towards their success!!


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    • CassyLu1981 profile image


      5 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      I used to do FCC (family child care) in my house and it was amazing playing with the kids and watching them learn at the same time! I love kids :) Voted up and shared :)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Great hub and very useful! This is really a great way of learning. Kids wants to play and when parents will play with them the more it is fun. They did not know that they are already learning. Voted up and more.

    • watergeek profile image


      5 years ago from Pasadena CA

      When I was two my grandmother would sit me down in her bedroom upstairs and pour out her collection of hundreds of buttons. She never played with me, but I suppose that taught me to concentrate and learn to entertain myself (lol). I remember the colors and shapes and the silky feel of them when I spread the piles out. Science? Math? Sewing?

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 

      5 years ago from California

      Fantastic article. I remember how playing as a kid taught me so much about life, creativity, and myself. It's a bummer so many kids sit in front of the TV all day now. So many missed opportunities.

    • meloncauli profile image


      5 years ago from UK

      Great hub. Children enjoy learning through game play. I remember simple things like building pyramids with playing cards with my kids and allowing them to blow them down in fits of laughter!

    • JillKostow profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Kostowskie 

      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      krsharp05 - We count everything we can with our youngest son. We also did it with the older children when they were young and it really does make a difference. Blank paper is great for drawing and you can recycle paper that has one blank side. We use the backs of junk mail, school papers, etc. It is less expensive than buying coloring books or books of blank paper. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • JillKostow profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Kostowskie 

      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      greeneryday - Thank you so much!

    • JillKostow profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Kostowskie 

      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Om Paramapoonya - Thanks! Yes, the boy in the pictures is my youngest son and he is always drawing us great pictures! He was so happy that I used his deer picture for my hub!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      5 years ago

      Yep, playing isn't a waste of time! This is such a lovely hub, Jill. I love your table of different activities and how they help children develop different skills. The boy in those pictures is your son? He is CUTE! :)

    • photographybyar profile image

      Addie's Momma 

      5 years ago from Bakersfield, California

      I work with children at a mental health clinic. Your hub is great and very informative :-)

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 

      5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Fantastic ideas. I love your rubric of ideas. My boys would have loved using trucks to count! And honestly I never entertained using blank paper so that they could create their own words. Well done Jill. -K

    • greeneryday profile image


      5 years ago from Some tropical country

      I love the fact that by playing our children get to learn and hone a new skills. The table with those objects and materials to played with is really useful for parents who want to have their children to develop the necessary skills they will need in the future.

      Definitely a must to read hub for parents, just like me. Already bookmarked this hub for future reference. VOTED UP FOR AWESOME, and above all THANK YOU for sharing!

    • JillKostow profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Kostowskie 

      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks leahlefler! It is so cool just watching what they can come up with on their own when playing with their toys. I love the explanations of the drawings especially when the kids are young! You can never guess what is going to come out of their mouths when you ask them "What is it?"

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      5 years ago from Western New York

      I absolutely love your table of common playthings and the skills they are helping a child to develop! My boys love their blocks and it has been wonderful to watch the way they have changed in the way they play with them over the years. At first they were just stacking them and knocking them down - now we have elaborate roads and castles built from them!


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