Learning Through Play - What does it look like?

1. Fine Motor Skills

Fine Motor Skills (FMS) are the coordination of small muscles to perform skills that generally involve our hands and fingers. The Pincer Grip (index finger and thumb) is a classic Fine Motor Skill that babies learn around nine months old but many children struggle with.

2. Creative Play

Creative experiences can help children express and cope with their feelings. A child's creative activity can help parents to learn more about what the child may be thinking or feeling. Creativity also fosters mental growth in children by providing opportunities for trying out new ideas and new ways of thinking and problem-solving. Creative activities help acknowledge and celebrate children's uniqueness and diversity.

3. Crossing the Midline (Bi-lateral Coordination)

Crossing the midline refers to the ability to reach across the middle of the body with the arms and legs.

4. Cause and Effect

Cause and effect is the relationship between an action and an outcome.

Children develop an understanding of cause and effect when they are exposed to a variety of experiences. One of the best and easiest ways to help children explore this concept is through...you guessed it….play!

 5. Social and Language

What is Social Development?

When a baby is born, there is so much to take in and learn. One of the most important skills your little human will have to learn is social skills. This takes years and years to develop and master, and given that our social environment is always changing, our skills in this area are always being fine-tuned and changed to suit new circumstances.

It’s mind boggling the things that babies and toddlers learn to do socially during the first few years. They go from being a newborn who can’t see your face, to a little person with their own personality and habits (good or bad, I’ll let you be the judge).

A child needs to develop socially so that they can function in society independently. It is of great importance that we, as parents, help foster and develop this skill throughout our child’s life. Social skills are required almost every aspect of our life; home, work, sport, cultural activities, shopping, trips to the park etc.

What is Language Development?

Language development is another skill that your little human is learning from birth. It’s a funny thing, language development. Parents wait in anticipation for that first word (please, let it be ‘Mumma’), only to wish that your child would stop talking when he has a couple of hundred words under his belt by the age of 3.

Language development is extremely important for your child. There are two main components to language development: receptive (how your child receives and understands language) and expressive (how your child communicates). You will find that the receptive side of language development will come first, as this is the easier of the two.

6. Handwriting

Letter Basics – turns out they aren’t basic at all!

Handwriting. Many of you will remember it fondly, while others cringe at the word. As a teacher, I do a little of both, but probably not for the same reasons.

Teaching handwriting is something that I thoroughly enjoy. I love watching the children trying to perfect the skill being taught, 27 sets of concentrating eyes staring at the lead as they attempt to write the perfect letter. Many will have tongues out as an involuntary movement of concentration (‘that’s me!’, you say), and the only children’s voice you will hear is a whispered, ‘can I please borrow an eraser?’

Now many of you say, handwriting is a dying art. By the time my children are working they won’t need to write anything. You are probably right. Handwriting is becoming increasingly less important in our professional lives. Everything is going electronic and the need to put pen to paper appears to be disappearing like the backwards ‘d’ a student rubs out during a lesson.

But handwriting is much more than being able to form letters correctly. It is a serious mental workout. A child learning to write must remember the formation of 52 letters (upper and lower); where to start, the direction to go in, how tall to make it, how small to make it, where to finish. The working and long term memory needs to be trained and handwriting is an excellent trainer.

Handwriting teaches children to have pride in what they do. A handwriting lesson isn’t complete without 27 little people itching to show me their letter ‘o’.

‘Mrs B do you like my work?’

‘Mrs B come look at mine’

‘Mrs B look at this ‘o’’

I love that my students can take their time with something and be so happy with the end result. And unlike a Word document, you can see the eraser marks of the ‘o’ that wasn’t good enough for them. The ‘o’ isn’t perfect like the Word document either, but it’s written proof of the effort they went to.

This brings me to my last point. Patience. Handwriting is the wonderful teacher of patience. Many of my handwriting lessons have one thing in common – grunts of frustration (from children, not teacher). Children want things here. Right now. In a handwriting lesson, the perfect letter isn’t achieved first go. It’s wobbly, crooked, possibly backwards. This can be frustrating for many students; however, I remind them of the one way to get better at something; practice, and they come to realise that if you are patient, and try hard, you will be able to achieve the desired result and be proud of how far you have come.

Our Letter Basics teach and foster the development of handwriting. However it would be unfair to call them basic, as they encompass many life lessons that can’t be taught through a Word document.

7. Auditory and Visual

Visual perception is the brain’s ability to process and make sense of what the eyes see. Visual perception skills are extremely important for everyday tasks such as reading, writing, completing puzzles, cutting, drawing and mathematics. It is important to note that visual perception does not refer to how clearly a person can see. An individual can have perfect vision and still have problems with visual perceptual processing.

If a child has difficulties with visual perception, they may have trouble with tasks such as:

Children with visual perception problems can also find it difficult to concentrate, regulate their behaviour, control emotions (e.g. frustration) and persist on things they find challenging.