How do parents create a stimulating environment for play and learning?

What should a play and
learning environment for young children look like? As parents, how
can you ensure that your kids have enough stimulation in terms of
their cognitive, physical, emotional and social development?

If you had to think
about one place that has been created for the purpose of learning,
you would probably think of the classroom. For young children
especially, this is somewhere where play is still high up on the list
of activities and the environment is set out to achieve the goal of
continued child development. So, how can parents make learning and
play fun within a more informal setting?

In a modern classroom,
the layout is designed to provide a place where young children can
play, work and learn independently, as well as interact with one
another when involved in group activities. Your home can be geared
towards these goals too and your little one will be able to enjoy a
rich learning experience whether they are in the house or out playing
in the garden.

Encourage physical activities where they can get
hands-on

The age of the child
will obviously have a bearing on the level of challenge they face
when engaged in play activities. However, in their early years they
will almost certainly welcome more hands-on pursuits and
opportunities for practicing these new experiences.

Young children have
been found to learn most effectively when they are physically
immersed in what they are doing and when there is a high level of
activity, variety and stimulus change. Therefore, if you are trying
to come up with suitable things for them to play with, good quality
equipment like ride-ontoys or babywalkers would be ideal. Many of the latest ride-on models can be
used indoors and outdoors, so these would make for excellent
additions to the playroom.

As children are always
seeking a constant change of stimuli, you may want to set up
different activities in different rooms, so there is a frequent
change of scenery. Consider possibilities for dramatic play, drawing
and making things with construction blocks. The possibilities are
endless, so it is up to you to devise a plan for activities your
little one will enjoy.

How important are the design and aesthetic
factors?

When you are looking at
creating an environment for children to play in, your thoughts will
naturally turn to the physical space itself. The toys and equipment
to play with are going to be just as crucial as the room you set
aside for this, but it has been shown that children do need soft,
responsive environments for development. So, you may wish to use a
combination of grass, water and sand when outdoors, plus comfy
pillows, cushions,
bean bags and
rugs inside the home to achieve this. Colourful playroom furniture is going to be another winner.

Try to make the setting
as comfortable, interesting, attractive and child-appropriate as
possible, while checking that it is also safe and secure. By doing
this, you can create a place children are happy to play in and feel
confident enough to explore and engage with all the things placed
around them.

Go outdoors for a change of scenery

As
we’ve already mentioned, it is good for children to move from one
setting to another. Access to outdoor space has its own benefits as
kids are not as restricted as they are inside. While adult
supervision is necessary, it will be worth it as they get to take in
all the different colours and sounds. It also means they get a greater
appreciation for space and the scale of things. The social aspects of
being outside are also important, so providing opportunities for your
little one to play with others should certainly be encouraged. Active
learning is another reason why an outdoor environment is great for a
child’s development.

Developing all the time

Parents of toddlers
will know how their children seem to be developing all the time and
picking up new things on a daily basis. Therefore, to keep up with
their rapidly developing minds, a dynamic environment is required.
Aim to provide them with a rich variety of play activities and a wide
assortment of children’s toys to aid their learning in different
ways. You can still do this and respond to the individuality of your
child, creating a space they feel has been designed just for them.

Choose equipment
according to the developmental stage they are at and pick things that
will add to the learning environment. To young children, everything
seems new and exciting, so learning can indeed be fun. If you need
some inspiration for making your home a more stimulating place for
your child to live in, be sure to take a look at the myriad of
resources to be found online. Advice from others in the same
situation is always welcome, so it might be worth trying a site like
Mumsnet, or for further reading
on the topic check out this SAGE publication on Play and the Learning Environment.

 

 

“Posted in collaboration with Born To Toddle”

 

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