Tag Archive for: social skills

15 ways children learn best through play, how it benefits them & why it's important in early childhood.

Play teaches children about each other, themselves, other living things, cause and effect, and the world around them.Watch any infant, toddler or preschooler for just a few minutes and you’ll see that one thing comes naturally to them; play. Indeed, it’s as if they’ve been programmed that way, with the need to play coming instinctively to youngsters, whatever their species. Aside from it simply being great fun, there are a multitude of very good reasons for that — play teaches them an enormous amount about each other, themselves, other living things, cause and effect, and the world around them. It also allows them to learn and fine-tune a whole swathe of new skills as they grow older, play new games, and become more experienced. Add in some careful steering and nurturing during that play from Mum or Dad and they have a real recipe for success. With that in mind, we look today at the key ways in which learning through play profoundly benefits children.

1. Play & Creativity Go Hand-in-Hand

Role-play activities teach children how to use their imaginations and think creatively.Play and creativity go hand-in-hand. Whether making up a new game, role-playing, constructing, or playing in a den, children will naturally create both scenarios and physical items as part of their play. Such activities teach them how to use their imaginations and to be creative — in a myriad of ways.

2. Play Boosts Problem-Solving & Critical Thinking Skills

During play, children will inevitably reach points where a problem needs to be solved or a challenge overcome. Such things will help to stretch children’s minds and stimulate thinking skills to help them invent new ways to do things, solve problems, accomplish tasks, or do something more efficiently. Problem-solving and critical thinking skills will benefit hugely in this way and these are crucial skills for children to learn as they grow older.

3. Play Hones Motor Skills

Children will naturally hone both fine and gross motor skills during play.Different play activities require different types of movement and physical interaction from children. Indeed, this is a fundamental aspect of play. Whether jumping and running with large movements or carefully constructing with small items like building blocks, children will naturally hone both fine and gross motor skills during play. Such physical skills are essential to their ability to navigate and interact with the world around them and, in the most natural of ways, play is at the heart of enhancing those abilities.

4. Play Makes Children Fitter

All that running around, chasing, jumping, hopping and playing games is sure to raise a child’s heart rate and, in time, get them a little out of breath. That’s great exercise, right there, but play makes it fun rather than a chore. And, as we know, exercise is good for us, helping to keep us more fit and healthy. In fact, along with a healthy, balanced, diet, it can even help children to reduce or avoid the prospect of childhood obesity.

5. Play is Good for Children’s Emotional Well-Being

Did you know that the hormone cortisol, which the body releases when under stress, reduces when children play? It just goes to prove that playing makes children happy — after all, it’s great fun — and that’s great for their overall emotional well-being.

6. Play Enhances Cognitive Skills

Playing not only improves physical fitness, motor skills and coordination, but it also improves brain function. After all, play takes a myriad of different forms, each type requiring a different mixture of concentration and cognitive skills to succeed. Play is, indeed, like a good workout for the mind, with every passing minute of play enabling the brain to form countless new connections that will stand a child in good stead through improved skills and knowledge going forward.

7. Play Improves Social Skills

Social skills are also improved through play.Social skills are also improved through play. Children naturally play with other children and, by so doing, will soon pick up social skills as they begin to better understand social protocols that allow them to succeed both as individuals and in groups. Decent manners, saying please and thank you, cooperation, teamwork and closer bonding are all examples of social skills that can benefit through group play. Other examples include conflict resolution, better sharing, negotiation and communication, which we’ll come to next.

8. Play Helps Children Learn to Communicate Better

Play is a great facilitator of communication amongst children.Through all this play, children will be communicating with each other and with any adults that are supervising. As such, play is a great facilitator of communication. Indeed, good communication is essential to most games and, through it, children can cooperate and achieve in ways that will help them in both the short term and into adulthood. Improving communication skills is also a fundamental way to improve success when you think about it.

9. Play Enhances Emotional Intelligence

Play also allows children to see things from one another’s perspectives. Role-play games are a great example and, through such endeavours, children can better understand how their actions might affect others. Through such play opportunities, they’ll learn to have improved empathy, patience, and perception of others. Those are important tools for any individual to master, both as children and as adults.

10. Play Stimulates Children’s Senses

One of the key ways babies and infants learn is through the senses and it’s through play that they often do this. Whether reaching out to touch a soft toy during tummy time, playing with coloured shapes, or progressing to creative play with play dough and suchlike when they’re older, they can learn a lot about the world through the senses during early play. Learn more about The Benefits of Sensory Play for Under-Fives here.

11. Play Makes Sense of Mathematics

Playing can also teach children about mathematics.Mathematics is often embedded into games and pastimes. Children can learn, for example, about adding, subtracting, multiplication and division through games. Even dividing group play into teams requires some fundamental maths to ensure teams are equal in size. Building towers out of blocks is another great example where children can count how many blocks they can stack into a tower before it falls over. They can try to beat their own maximum, or even compete against one another to see who can use the most blocks.

12. Play Teaches Children Real-World Science

Play also teaches children about science and how it applies to the real world around them. Properties of materials are a good example, with children learning to understand the properties of liquids, solids, play dough, gravity, heat and cold, cause and effect, and so on — often through the simple act of playing.

13. Play Teaches Children to Assess Risk

Another great skill that children can learn through play is that of risk assessment. Should they climb further up this tree or is it too dangerous? Should they add another block to their tower construction, or will it tip over? Can they leap across this puddle without getting wet? All such things are great examples of how simple play activities can teach children how to assess risk — and learn from it.

14. Play Educates Children About the World Around Them

By immersing children into widely differing environments, play teaches children about the world around them, and everything within it.Play comes in a vast array of different forms, shapes, and sizes. Through so doing, it introduces children to countless scenarios, situations, and challenges. By immersing children into such widely differing environments, they learn huge amounts about the world around them, and everything within it. Whether it’s newfound knowledge about a new object, material, place, culture, activity, or something else, play is an amazing conduit to new knowledge and the need to learn new skills. Play is the ultimate educator and the incredible thing is that children may be unaware that they’re learning — they’re having too much fun!

15. Play Makes Learning Fun & Natural

All in all, play teaches children a vast amount about the world around them, about themselves, and about others. It also teaches them a myriad of new skills. Incredibly, it makes such learning fun and totally natural. As such, play is an immensely powerful teacher that’s key to the success of every child’s early learning and development.

Children Learn Through Play at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

The childcare professionals at Little Cedars Nursery understand very well the superpowers of play. That’s why babies, toddlers and preschoolers learn mostly through play and child-led activities at the nursery in Streatham. Through play and a learning and development programme that’s custom-designed for each child, little ones absolutely thrive at Little Cedars, achieving personal bests in every area of the curriculum and personal development. In this way, we ensure they are as school-ready as possible by the time they leave us as they approach the age of five.

Nursery & Preschool Places at a Good Nursery/Preschool in Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderWould you like to explore the possibility of your baby or under-five child attending Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham? We’re officially a ‘good provider’ of childcare and early years education and offer a warm, cosy, home-from-home environment where every child thrives and feels valued. We’re also conveniently located if you live or work near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. Get in touch today to get started on your application, to visit, or to find out more:

Spooky Kids' Activities for Halloween: Fun Ideas for 31st October

Children love getting into the spirit of Halloween!The arrival of October means it’s time for children and families to prepare for Halloween! Arriving on the 31st of the month, it’s a firm favourite for any childhood and gives children the opportunity for uniquely spooky fun, games and dressing up. Indeed, Halloween offers a wonderful variety of activities for children to take part in and that’s exactly what we look at in today’s article. Stand by, then, to prepare the household for some spookylicious Halloween activity ideas for kids!

Dress up in Spooky Halloween Costumes

A white bedsheet with two eye-holes suitably positioned makes for a wonderfully-effective ghost costume.Children adore dressing up for Halloween. The spooky nature of Halloween costumes really appeals to them, especially if they get together with friends and compare outfits on Halloween evening.

A huge range of wonderful Halloween fancy dress costumes is available to purchase. However, your child can have even more fun and potentially save costs by making their own Halloween outfit. It’s both great fun and a wonderfully creative activity. Here are a few ideas but bear in mind, of course, that any fabric cutting should be done by adults or, for older children, under their supervision:

  • A white bedsheet with two eye holes suitably positioned makes for a wonderfully effective ghost costume. Kids will love wearing these and leaping out at unsuspecting family and friends!
  • Black sheets or clothes are easy to make into witch or wizard outfits. Add pointy hats made from card.Similarly, black sheets are easy to make into witch or wizard outfits. Alternatively, use black clothing and, if it’s no longer being worn for anything else, it can even be given ragged edges for extra effect. Add pointy black hats made of cardboard or paper and the costumes are complete.
  • Clothing that’s no longer needed is a great canvas on which children or parents can paint the bones of the body, so children wearing the costume look like spooky walking skeletons. Some black and white face painting will complete the effect by creating a ‘skull’ face!
  • Home-made spider costumes are also feasible using black clothing, stuffed jumpers (for the body) and extra spider legs made from black tights stuffed and attached to the child’s belt.
  • Similarly, children can dress up as pumpkins simply by using an orange top or t-shirt, suitably decorated in paint so children look like walking, talking Jack-O’-Lanterns!

As you can see, these home-made Halloween outfits are fairly simple to accomplish, without the need for much, if any, expense. This activity is also one that really gets children’s creative juices and a sense of fun flowing.

Display Some Spooky Halloween Decorations

Set the atmosphere with spooky decorations!If you want your child’s Halloween experience to be truly spooktacular, encourage them to decorate the house – whether inside or out – with all manner of ghoulish decorations and ghostly paraphernalia. Home-made spider webs can, of course, be made using string, thread or stretched-out cotton wool. However, such decorations can usually be purchased inexpensively from supermarkets, which typically have cheap Halloween decorations around October each year. Spiders can be home-made by children from wool or black pipe cleaners, or similarly bought commercially along with shop-bought decorations depicting skeletons, ghosts, bats and suchlike. You can also buy LED lights, including strings of lights, that look like Halloween pumpkin lanterns. Such lighting is great for extra atmosphere!

Make Spooky Food & Drink

Children love cooking and decorating biscuits and cookies for Halloween!If your household is carving pumpkins for Halloween this year, perhaps save some of the flesh and use it to make a spookylicious pumpkin soup for the family to eat come Halloween evening time. There are plenty of excellent recipes online and children can help make the soup, under supervision for safety purposes.

Children of all ages also generally love cooking biscuits and cookies, so why not encourage them to make some that are Halloween-themed? Perhaps try ghost-shaped and bat-shaped cookies with decorating in black and white icing (see example).

Drinks can also be themed by children by painting Halloween imagery onto paper cups – it’s another simple Halloween children’s activity that’s both fun and creative.

Supermarkets are also sure to sell Halloween-themed party food, drink and accessories as Halloween approaches, so there’s usually lots for children and families to choose from.

Host a Spooktacular Halloween Party!

Combine the Halloween fancy dress costumes, spooky decorations, and themed food and drink by hosting a Halloween party!Children can combine Halloween fancy dress costumes, spooky decorations, and themed food and drink by hosting a Halloween party for friends and family. Such preparations are sure to set up a wonderfully spooky atmosphere in which children will have immense fun comparing outfits and getting into the spirit of the event. Add Halloween-themed games, play ghostly music and take turns to read ghost stories and the evening is sure to be one to remember! It’s also a great conduit through which children can socialise and perhaps grow stronger bonds.

Trick-or-Treating Activity

Children will absolutely love tricking-or-treating and it's sure to result in much giggling and laughter!Take the Halloween activities to an extra level by arranging a group trick-or-treat session, under adult supervision, for children in your street. They will absolutely love this activity and it’s sure to result in much giggling and laughter if it goes as planned. However, be sure to check with each neighbour before the day. In that way, they can opt out if they prefer not to get involved. For those that do take part, most neighbours usually go the ‘treat’ route but be ready for the possibility that a few may opt for the ‘trick’ option, in which scenario the children under your supervision will need to be ready with a fun but harmless trick. Some forethought and creative thinking may be needed there, with care being taken not to allow children to overstep the mark.

Also, be sure to buy suitable sweets or gifts for children who may trick-or-treat and knock on your door (age-appropriate, of course).

Visit a Local Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin patches make great family photo opportunities around Halloween time.Pumpkin patches are often wonderful places for children and families to spend a few hours in the run-up to Halloween. In such places, your little one can explore amongst hundreds of pumpkins and other gourds of different sizes and shapes. And, if they find one they take a liking to, they can usually be purchased to take home, or might even be included in the price if the venue has an entrance fee. Pumpkin patches often also have other Halloween-themed activities at this time of year, whether it’s displays where you can take memorable snaps of your child amongst the pumpkins, wheelbarrow rides for children across a pumpkin field, pop-up refreshments with Halloween-themed food and drink or pumpkin-decorating workshops, they’re always great fun for children. They really help to make Halloween the special time of year that it is.

Pumpkin patches are usually found on farms and agricultural locations, so you may not have one locally if you live in a big city like London. However, some may be a short train, bus or car ride away. Either way, try Googling ‘pumpkin patches near me‘ and see if any of the results throw up a pumpkin patch that’s within reach.

Decorate Pumpkins & Make Jack-O’-Lanterns

Family preparing a Jack-O'-Lantern pumpkin.Once you’ve sourced a suitable pumpkin for your child, it’s time for the really fun part — pumpkin carving and decorating! While the carving part may not be suited to children of a young age (knives are super-dangerous), they can usually help, under supervision, with scooping out the flesh and then, the most fun part of all, decorating. Pumpkins can depict faces, spiders, owls or any spooky imagery you or your little one can imagine. And, even if they may be too young to carve the holes,Examples of carved pumpkin Jack-O'-Lanterns. they can still decorate using paint or markers, or simply enjoy Mum or Dad getting creative on their behalves.

Once ready, the spooky pumpkin(s) are ready to display indoors or out once it gets dark. Adults should supervise if lighting the pumpkins with real-flame tea lights, or better still look out for flickering LED fake candles, which will be the safest option. Children will love looking at these pumpkin lanterns (also known as Jack-O’-Lanterns) glowing in the dark and they will really set the Halloween atmosphere.

The smallest of children can decorate oranges or yellow/orange bell peppers, so there's no need for dangerous carving.TIP: Kids don’t even really need a pumpkin; the smallest of children can decorate oranges or yellow/orange bell peppers! They look really cute and an added bonus is that they avoid the need for any carving.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham, London SW16

We hope today’s article gives children and families some good ideas for Halloween this year. These days, it’s simply a wonderful opportunity for children to have fun, socialise and get creative with friends and family. It’s also a unique milestone in the calendar each year and something children can really look forward to.

A Nursery Place for Your Baby, Toddler or Preschooler in Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderTrust your weekday childcare to a ‘Good Provider’ (it’s official!). We are a high-quality nursery and preschool located in Streatham, London SW16, offering a first-class early years education and childcare service to babies, toddlers and preschoolers under five. We may also suit if you’re located in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood. What’s more, we support free childcare through various Government schemes, making childcare more affordable for eligible families.

Request a place for your child, a tour, or more information below — we look forward to hearing from you: