Discovery Play - One of the two major types of play that fosters curiosity and discovery
|NOTE TO PARENTS: Can Your Child Read Yet?|
Play is an important part of growing up, but not at the expense of learning key skills such as reading. See the amazing video footage of young children reading. Help your child discovery the joy of reading!
Discovery play is another major part of a child's life. The other part is imaginative play.
Simply put, discovery play allows children to learn about the world and how it works (not just the physical world either). In general, children learn best by doing, so this type of playing is a natural fit for their development.
Discovery play doesn't necessarily mean that children are given a structured kind of play.
Yes, it does happen this way too and it can be fun. But more often than not, it's more enjoyable for kids to just "do stuff" and see what does what and why. This is the really fun part of learning. Maybe more so because it's spontaneous.
Discovery toys, therefore, mean toys that are mainly designed to engage children into play while leading them to make new discoveries (e.g., how engines work, how to build a stable structure, concept of gravity through marble runs, etc...).
Of course, there are very few toys if any that can be called non-discovery toy. If you wanted to get technical, I bet someone could come up with a reason for why a plush toy could be called a discovery toy (e.g., textures and other characteristics of the material used).
So why is it important enough for me to dedicate a whole page to this topic? I mean, if almost anything can be classified as a discovery toy and if almost any activity can be called a discovery play, then why bother to name it and identify it?
Maybe it's the 'grown up' in me or maybe I am thinking too much into this.
But think of it this way. Suppose you have a child who is unable to speak yet. She tries to communicate with you and you can tell that she is using some form of sign language or gesturing in a consistent manner in her efforts to get her message across.
It is important to recognize that she is attempting to communicate with you in a systematical way, but that alone isn't enough. What you need is to know the specific signs to look for in her communication attempts.
Likewise, I think knowing that something is a discovery play or discovery toy isn't enough. It's a great start, but you need to know what to look for in your child's play or toys.
So having gone through that lengthy explanation, let's go over some characteristics of great discovery play or toys.
If we wanted, we could try to classify this thing to death. The point is not to identify the different types of discovery toys, but to grasp what kinds of things you need to look out for.
What I think it really comes down to is not what the toy is designed to do, but what the child can or will do with it. Depending on how she plays, moments of profound discoveries can be experienced (even simple things like "Hey, I can use this skipping rope to tie something, but it's too slippery. How can I tie this better?")
For parents, what's really important is that we encourage, without interfering, this learning process. And it is a learning process, which means it will take time and lots of trial and error.
It takes a lot of patience on our part. This is tougher than you might think. Here's my story.
So keep your eyes open for the different toys, but also for what else you can do with those toys. Let your child discover what she can or can't do with her toys. Encourage her to experiment and to try new things.
I wish you many great moments of discoveries, "ah-ha" moments and memories to cherish.
"education at play"
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