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Play is Teaching

Play is Teaching

It is funny what playing a game can do to people. When rules are set for a game most people are apt to follow them even if they seem silly or out of the ordinary because games encourage us to suspend what may seem natural to us.

Take for example the game of charades. To act out something without using words for other team members during a set amount of time is not easy, productive or simple but people will suspend effectiveness for the sake of the game.

Children are the same way. To teach through playing helps establish a world where a child can explore the world in a safe place where you can engage them on their terms.

Playing is teaching. The reality is that for children they learn about the world about them through play.

In two studies, one from a lab at MIT and another at UC-Berkeley published in Cognition a few years ago examined how children learn and explore. The studies determined that when 3rd grade children were given instructions on how to use a toy they were able to use it for that specific use. While it helped them learn what was expected they were less likely to generalize that information. A second set of children were given the toy but given the opportunity to explore on their own and through “play” discover the toy. What they learned was that children were able to grasp the purpose of the toy through play and find additional uses for the toys. To read more about this study you can access information at the bottom of this article.

Play and exploration is a way for children to understand and generalize things into their world.

The skills in Smarter Parenting are coupled with games and activities that help teach the concepts an easy to understand way.


Just remember, play is teaching. Every moment is an opportunity to teach.

Who said raising your kids could be so fun? We did. Enjoy!

If there is a game or activity you have used with your children to teach them something please share it.

You an also read Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development, by J.P. Isenberg and M.R. Jalongo.

To read more about the topic of why play is learning click here.