The importance of playing with children
- Strengthen children’s communication and social skills.
- Let them enjoy the course and participate passionately through interaction, so that they experience complete immersion and intense concentration.
- Give them the opportunity to experience a joyful and loving atmosphere.
- Introduce them to rules, orders and disciplines. Through knowing how to act at the right time, they gain self-discipline and self-management.
- Let them explore different kinds of knowledge without notice.
- Learn to receive and export messages through participation.
- Guide them to follow their instinct to learn (through hands and action).
- Enhance their language development through movements and interactions.
- Let them experience an entire process, from its beginning to ending.
- Enhance their ability to observe, determine, create, and think logically.
- Give adults a chance to understand children’s characters.
Playing is a process. This process is what children mostly needed because it gives children the opportunities to develop various intelligences. Indeed, playing is the simplest way for human beings to learn.
What are toys？
What do toys mean for you? To some people, toys are objects to occupy children. To toy suppliers, toys are unpractical objects to gain money from parents. To us, toys, which should be teaching material, are practical objects for children to operate and gain information from.
“Hands” are the most important tool for children. If we understand why children use their hands, we understand how to assist children’s learning. When a several-month-old infant touches our world out of curiosity, we adults should prepare a “learning environment for hands” especially for children. In other words, we provide a prepared environment for our little friends to passionately self-learn.
Parents, some of which under the mistaken notion of fantasy is equivalent to innocence, would give their children unrealistic things rather than tangible objects. It is the not the right way to do though. “Education” means introducing the real world to children, preparing them for the life and learning in the future. According to the latest scientific research, we learn best at the first six years after birth. Since children at this stage have powerful absorbent mind and are willing to use their hands, we should make the best use of the characteristics of this period. Therefore, teaching materials should be tools operable by hands.
The meaning of toys or teaching material to children
Before we go to the meaning of toys or teaching material to children, we must understand how children learn. Pre-school children’s can absorb information like a sponge. We almost acquire all we need to live before the age of six. For example: body movement and coordination: walking, running, jumping, speaking, heading for food, basic logic, etc. Over our life, the brain works the most at this period. The sensory organs of children, namely eyes, ears, tongue, nose and skin, receive signals for the brain. Among these 5 brain receivers, the one with the largest proportion of our body is skin. This is the reason why we cannot neglect children's desires to learn through hands (skin). We should make good use of this characteristic instead.
A good tool (real object) transmits message to children, whether you name the tool as “toy” or “teaching material”. Even a kitchen tool is a good teaching material in the eyes of children. It is because these tools themselves are messages to children. In the eyes of children, toys, tools and teaching material are the same things. If children are allowed to operate “tools”, they have their “teaching material” and they do not need “toys”.
One point to note is that parents should avoid giving toddlers electrical toys. Because toddlers’ knowledge is limited to what they see or touch, there is a possibility that sound or light-emitting electrical toys may confuse them.
An excellent learning material can a child his/her own teacher. This is a great way to get children into the habit of self-learning. The best time for brain development of children is well before they can read . It is essential to provide them with toys or materials to satisfy their hunger to knowledge.
Choosing toys or teaching materials for children
We know the importance of toys or teaching materials but how to make a choice? When choosing toys/teaching material for your children, we can raise the following questions:
- Is this toy for entertainment, passing time or spreading messages?
- In the process of operating this toy/teaching material, what messages can the children get?
- How long does it take to operate this toy/teaching material?
- Will the child control the toy or vice versa?
- Can this toy/ teaching material enhance verbal communication between the children and adults?
- Can this toy/teaching material offer a chance for self-learning?
- Is this toy/ teaching material durable?
- Is this toy/ teaching material operated by mental ability or by memorization?
- Does this toy/teaching material develop cognition, logical thinking or coordination?
- Does this toy/teaching material allow the child to develop his/her individual thinking or need verbal guide of an adult?
- Is this toy/ teaching material too rich (in color or picture) to interfere the concentration of the child’s sight?
- Does this toy /teaching material meet his ability rather than his age?
- Whose needs do this toy/ teaching material meet: You or the child?