Empower children to take control of their learning experience, through activities and topics that are intrinsically motivating.
Child directed play and learning helps build self-confidence and offers the opportunity for your child to take the lead in their educational experience. As a parent you want to help your children learn, but education may not be your primary skill set. Child directed play and learning empowers you and your learner to establish a curriculum that works for your family, without becoming overwhelmed.
How Are Child Directed Play and Child-Led Learning related?
Child directed play occurs when children take the lead, choosing games and activities that are meaningful to them. Child directed play is self-motivating, encouraging children to continue with the activity because they are intrinsically motivated.
Child-led learning uses this same intrinsic motivation to navigate the learning experience, ultimately providing a more enriched at home curriculum. By encouraging children to take the lead in their learning they will naturally be drawn to topics that interest them most, further encouraging the behavior and associating enjoyment with the educational process.
The benefit of an organized play space
While it may seem counterintuitive to spend time creating an organized and thoughtful play space for kids who seem determined to destroy everything in their path, there is reason to do so.
Early educators often refer to the environment as “the third teacher.” This basically means that our children’s environment has a profound impact on their learning and development.
A poorly planned environment, one that is overloaded with toys that leave little to the imagination or is organized in a way that doesn't encourage purposeful and independent play, is an environment that detracts from your child's learning.
So how does the environment actually teach children?
Urie Bronfenbrenner, psychologist and founder of the Head Start Program in the U.S., explains that the child impacts the environment, and is therefore impacted by the environment.
A good learning environment will encourage children to engage in a variety of explorations based on their individual preferences and needs.
Creating an amazing play space for your child doesn't have to be expensive or overly time consuming. And you absolutely don't need a dedicated playroom to create an environment that invites play.
When children are in an environment that is beautiful, simple, and organized they are more likely to engage in discovery and exploration. It is this curiosity that teaches them the most.
3 Ways to Create an Environment that Supports Development
Incorporate a variety of sensory experiences.
Make sure you provide toys and other activities that give your child the opportunity to touch, smell, and hear in a variety of ways. You can provide musical instruments, or something as simple as pots and pans to bang. Wooden blocks and blocks or building materials with different textures are a great addition. A sensory bin filled with rice, sand, or water is a simple way to introduce a variety of textures to little hands.
Create a space that supports the specific preferences of the children in that particular environment.
Think about what makes your child tick. What types of activities do they gravitate towards? Try to provide toys and experiences that help support those specific interests, but also consider how you can expand on the interests.
Make sure the environment is rich in content.
This means having a variety of different types of reading materials available. Make trips to the library to bring home books about a wide range of topics. Include your children when you are learning something new. Read out loud. Listen to audiobooks. Encourage them to ask questions and help them find answers.
It's important to understand that a children's environment should be a place that sparks collaboration, communication and creativity.