Play isn't only a fun way for children to pass time. It's also a way for them to learn and uncover the realities of the world around them through creativity and imagination.
It's true; children see things that grown-ups may not even realise. Give a child a collection of small objects, like marbles and shells, and they'll be able to find a novel way to enjoy the presence of these two loosely-related objects.
Fostering this sense of creativity and imagination is what will help your child grow into a well-rounded person. Let's learn more about how children benefit from playtime!
The Loose Parts Play approach
There are a variety of methods to encourage a child's creativity. One such way is the loose parts play approach.
The loose parts play approach encourages these ordinary materials to be used as building blocks for your child's imagination.
The term "loose parts" may seem vague, but it essentially means any collection of ordinary objects.
Think of items like clay, sticks, or figurines. These objects are used freely with little or no transformation to create infinite possibilities for open-ended play.
This collection of playthings may be combined in one box and picked up and rearranged into a variety of formations, or played with for leisure. The content within the box doesn't have to follow any specific guidelines; as long as it's safe for your child, it can be used.
Why is the Loose Parts Play approach beneficial?
A toddler's perspective on the world is still quite new. They see items as they first appear: simple and straightforward.
As children grow, so do their cognitive skills and perception of the world around them. They learn to look at things from a new perspective, in a comparatively more vibrant view than how adults would see things.
By giving your child the space to think with unstructured objects, you're helping them engage in initial forms of storytelling and discovering ways to piece things together.
Moreover, this type of learning promotes an independent learning environment. No one but your child chooses the toys they'll use, and the possibilities for how they'll be used are endless. Your child can play with these toys in ways that may not even occur to you, tapping into the endless reservoir in their minds for inspiration.
What is needed to promote this form of play through kids?
To foster creativity within your kids, you have to set them up for success. In other words, provide the right environment and materials so that their playtime can be used productively.
Fortunately, you don't have to go out of your way and purchase troves of expensive kid's toys. You can fiddle around with the things you already have at home or you can even hunt for some trinkets around the lawn or park at no cost.
Are you a busy mom?
If so, going to an experienced early education care facility like Gowrie NSW can be appropriate if you want your child to expose themselves to trained specialists - often, an established and proven child care provider will make all the difference.
Here are some items to consider when utilising the loose parts play approach with your child:
Craft items: sequins, buttons, feathers, and bells for a range of different sensory play
Natural objects: leaves, rocks, sticks, and shells for building toys
Small simple toys: cars, miniature figurines, and LEGO pieces
Wooden items: popsicle sticks, blocks, and lids
Household items: jars, containers, and paper towels, and egg cartons.
Once you've gathered all of your loose parts and other relevant materials, it's time to work! Set aside a specific playtime for your child that they can truly relish in. You may also opt to use educational toys that promote open-ended learning within the loose parts play approach.
How to integrate Loose Parts Play with education?
Children should, first and foremost, have an innate drive to enjoy the toys around them. These items should be interesting enough to captivate them and hold their attention. When they're thoroughly engaged with their playthings, you can gradually introduce methods of making it an educational experience for them as well.
Loose items can be great ways for children to test out various hypotheses due to each item's unique properties. Which item would float on water, which would sink? Can light pass through this item - why or why not? A child can find out by putting objects in a tub of liquid or emitting a flashlight onto them to find out!
Loose items also make for great tools when it comes to basic mathematics. You can use loose parts play to teach your child ways of counting and grouping objects. You can sort these items by shape, type, or colours - enabling them to consider all these different variables and honing their ability to investigate and think for themselves.
You can engage children in the act of storytelling by allowing them to utilise loose parts play with their toys. They can create characters with objects, give these objects names, and create an environment around these figures where they can be placed. This builds their ability to articulate and expand their vocabulary in the process.
Loose parts play can be a great way to let kids express themselves creatively. They get the freedom to imagine and create new things with their materials, fostering their artistic vision in the process. For instance, they can learn how objects like ribbons can create riveting patterns when they're draped or rolled in certain ways.
Outcomes of teaching children to play
Loose parts play meets outcomes of various learning frameworks throughout the world. In particular, it:
Establishes a strong sense of identity
Foster a connection with the world
Embrace a strong sense of well-being
Instil confidence and involvement
Promote effective and inquisitive communication
Play goes beyond the act of enjoying oneself and having fun. When it's done effectively, it also provides a solid foundation for children to excel in later life as well, able to cope with challenges and solve problems on their own.