Approaches to Play and Learning
Children, as they grow, continue to need routines and parameters. But your child is beginning to realize that there’s more than one way to do things—and that you, she, and the world around her can be flexible. From inviting dinosaurs to a tea party to using tissues and tape to craft a kite -she’s learning to invent her own ways and rules. She’s reaching out for new experiences. She’s seeing her familiar world in new ways.
All this exploration will lead her to realize not only that she can make choices, but that choices are a way by which she can learn new things. Every time she approaches a task differently, or tries something she’s never done before, she shows herself that she can do it…and that gives her confidence in herself, and in her ability to try and even to fail.
How can you help her embrace this growth? Watch her explore, and be there to answer her questions. Praise her acts of independence, communication, and persistence. And give her the guidance and support to feel confident in the steps she takes off her usual path.
Let Me Try It.
“I know I can do it- just watch!” You are likely to hear phrases like this more and more. As your child grows stronger in her body, she’s also gaining confidence in her ability to strike out on her own. She’s curious to learn and try new things, even if she’s not always sure how to go about them. She may watch first, or ask you questions. In some cases she may just jump in with both feet! Step back, and let her explore—she’ll reach out to you if she needs reassurance.
I Can Do It Another Way.
Who knew toothbrushes could clean trucks or that that mud could help hold building blocks together! While you know there’s more than one way to solve a problem. Your child is experimenting as he recognizes this as well—especially if you encourage him to find new ways to do things he’s done before. As he learns he has options, he’ll see that the world is a place where he has opportunities to try different things, whether they work or not. With your guidance and support, he’ll learn to be flexible in his thinking and his play.
I Can Finish It, or I Can Pay Attention.
Your child is learning to focus and pay attention in a way that’s totally new—and sometimes, totally surprising! You may come across him reading a book to himself, all the way to its end. He may talk about needing to finish a drawing for you. And now, when you assign him a task like “put these forks and knives on the table,” he’ll have the ability to finish it by himself.
I Can Play With Other Kids.
Remember how excited you were to see your child “parallel play” next to other children? Now, she’s taken play to the next level. She’ll play blocks with a friend, and they’ll talk the whole time about what they’re building. With a little guidance from you or another adult, they can even build something in sync. You may even see her playing a game with a small group of children.
All children learn and grow at their own pace and in their own way. For more information about the skills and milestones for your child's age check out our developmental milestones resource page. If you continue to have concerns or questions please give us a call at 1-800-299-1627.