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3 Reasons Why Play Matters In Early Years And Bilingual Education

Do you agree that all work and no play makes Jack and Jane dull children? Join us for a practical guide on the benefits of play in early years and the promotion of bilingualism.

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As a parent or caregiver you want the best for your child. However, in an attempt to find the best tools and resources, you easily become bombarded and pressured into making the right choices. From downloading the latest apps, YouTube videos to printing worksheets and preparing flashcards…the choices are endless. But how do you make the right choice in supporting your child’s academic development?

Simple answer. Play. Think beyond the playground for a bit and dive into this life-changing opportunity to fully engage your child and have fun together.

Language and Vocabulary Development

Playing with your child fosters learning. Children who hear spoken words in daily interactions will naturally acquire language and vocabulary skills. Children will also learn to use language to communicate meaning. Grab some costumes, puppets or toys and try pretend play. Researchers have discovered how critical dramatic (pretend) play is for building oral language in early childhood.

For example, a child imitating a familiar situation (pretending to be mom taking care of the baby) may feel safe, without judgment and more motivated to use the second language because it's needed to interact with their peers. As a parent, you can also model language through guided-interaction or instructional play.

Here are some simple bilingual vocabulary games to try:

  • I Spy

  • What Am I?

  • Once Upon A Time

  • Odd One Out

Cognitive Development: Imagination and Creativity

The 21st century has birthed a fast-paced and high-tech society, making it more difficult for children to develop their creativity. Imagine a child who spent their entire summer vacation on the computer/ phone in their bedroom. As the days and weeks pass by, we’re left to count the many lost opportunities to have engaged them in play. Imaginative thinking and creativity become challenging for them, as a result a deeper reliance is placed on instructional learning during play. In addition, children need to be encouraged in their areas of interest. There's always room to explore and expand their imaginations ("thinking outside the box").

Some ideas for creative and imaginative play include:

  • keeping a 'busy box' ,

  • silly rock painting,

  • nature walks,

  • puppet making,

  • playing with musical instruments (percussion),

  • storytelling and more.

Numeracy Development: Problem-solving and Mathematics

"Bob the Builder! / Can we fix it? / Bob the Builder./ Yes, we can!" As you are a role model in play, children learn how to handle issues that arise. Later on in their independent or group play, they can attempt to solve complex problems that arise based on previous experiences. Whether you choose blocks, Legos or puzzles, these are great tools to foster problem-solving and mathematical thinking. Questions children may ask themselves during play are: How can I b