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What is Child-Led Play and Why is it So Important?

2018 August 6

Child-led play is exactly what it sounds like; children choose what to play and the adults follow the child’s lead. The sole purpose of this type of play is to allow children to explore and discover independently whilst making their own choices and decisions about what to do.

We’ve put together some tips to help you encourage child-led play whilst also identifying learning opportunities:

  • Be Enthusiastic – Showing a little enthusiasm can make all the difference to your child’s playtime. Your encouragement and interest in the things they want to explore can help to fuel their curiosity and improve learning.
  • Ask and Answer Questions – Encourage your little one to think deeper by asking questions about what they’re doing. Try to choose questions that could lead to other questions. Also, be on hand to answer any questions your child might have and remember that even if you don’t know the answer, discovering it together is a fun learning experience.
  • Encourage Learning – There are learning opportunities to be found in almost every activity. If your child is building with blocks, ask them to stack the blocks in a certain pattern, or count the number of blocks they’re using, they could sort blocks based on size or colour and build different structures using different numbers of blocks. Look for opportunities to learn and encourage your child to take them.
  • Lead by Example – If your child can see that you are exploring, trying new things and learning, they’ll be more curious and excited to follow your lead.
  • Celebrate – Even the smallest of achievements are rewarding for young children, and it’s important to celebrate them. You don’t need to supply treats or physical rewards either, simple verbal praise or maybe a colourful sticker can do wonders for a child’s self-confidence and foster a love of self-led play and learning.

Child-led play is a natural way for children to explore, discover and learn about the world around them. Try our top tips and share your thoughts in the comments below!

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