Want to unleash the educational power of play? Nutrition is the surprising key!

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Nutrition, play and your child’s development: they all work together. Here are some tips to encourage play-based learning in your kids.

Children love to play. It comes naturally to them. Mums and dads know this, and it is a source of daily delight and constant frustration. From the moment children wake up, they keep playing until they pass out from exhaustion or someone stops them (and sometimes not even then).

It may all seem like fun and games, but play is not just play — it is far more. The simple act of playing is nature’s way of making sure that a child grows up to realise his or her full potential.

For children to play at their best, they need energy. And this energy comes from the nutrition that nourishes them.

Nutrition, play and your child’s development are all inextricably linked. So to maximise your child’s development, be mindful of how nutrition fuels the all-important power of play.

Nutrition is key

Nutrition is one of the three major factors that impact a child’s development, together with genes and environment. In fact, research studies show that nutrition in a child’s early years is linked to their health and academic performance in later years.

That’s why, throughout early childhood, it’s important to make sure your child always gets the nutrition he needs. This is the foundation your child’s development is built on.

Play’s role in development

If nutrition fuels your child’s development, play is the active ingredient that spurs growth in your child’s  faculties. This includes virtually all aspects of your child’s development: cognitive, social, verbal and motor skills.

Therefore, without proper nutrition and adequate play, you will not see optimal development in your child. Furthermore, play requires energy in the form of nutrition. A malnourished or undernourished child will not play well, hindering growth and development, physical and cognitive.

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9 inspirational ideas for play based learning

Now that you appreciate the connection between play, nutrition and development, here are some play-based learning ideas for you to explore with your kids.

These ideas are a mix of indoor and outdoor activities. Use objects you can find in and around your house to inspire your kids to play and learn. Here are some examples:

  1. Ice Age

Freeze toy animals in a large tub of water. Once they are frozen, let your kids dig them out with spoons and forks. You can tell them about fossils while they do this. Or pretend you’ve discovered a woolly mammoth in the North Pole. This fun little game enables you to teach your child about history and nature. You can even throw in a bit of science and tell them how water becomes ice!

  1. Create Memories

Kids love photo albums because they’re the star! Engage them by making a book of family photos together. Go through each photo and talk about events or memories related with photos. By doing this, you’re encouraging your child to actively use their memory – an important cognitive skill to develop. And of course, there’s nothing like looking at family photos together that nurtures a sense of togetherness and love.

  1. Build build build!

Use wooden blocks to build anything in your child’s imagination. Try towers, castles, cars, tracks and whatever comes to mind! And while they’re busy building, talk about colours, balance, and construction techniques!

  1. Recycle Everything

Children don’t need expensive toys. Oftentimes, a cardboard box is the best toy ever invented. Use household recyclables to make toy cars, pirate hats, rockets and robots! This nourishes their imagination, hones fine motors skills and teaches kids about the usefulness of recycling. Also, take the opportunity to teach your little one about the importance of recycling to protect the environment.

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  1. Unleash Their Inner Artist

Make sure you always have a supply of  crayons, pencils and papers within reach. Let your kids find things at home to draw, and color them creatively, then pick a wall to display their artwork. This will work wonders for their confidence!  You’re also helping them unleash the power of imagination and creativity, which will become important soft skills in adult life.

  1. The Joy of Numbers

Get a dice. Let your child roll the dice and note down the number on a piece of paper. Let him roll again and note down the number. Let him add up the numbers and check on the answers using an abacus. Doing addition this way can help him understand the concept better. Needless to say, you’re child’s maths skill are being fine-tuned in the process.

  1. Guessing Game

Fill a bag with random objects. Get your child to put their hand inside and guess what they are holding. Ask them to describe the feel, shape, etc. of things. This game will put your child’s brain on overdrive as it engages all his senses and teaches him to make connections with what he senses to what he knows.

  1. Gardening Time

Prepare to get smart and get muddy! If you have a garden, create a veggie patch for your little one. Make him water the plants with his little watering can. Let him use his gardening tools. Then after harvest, eat the veggies he grew. By engaging in this game, you’re teaching your child the value of growing your own vegetables – both for the environment and health. And if your little one is old enough to help you in the kitchen, he or she learns another important skill: how to cook!

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  1. A Day at the Beach

Who doesn’t love a visit to the beach? While you’re there, collect a cup of beach sand, shells, twigs – anything interesting you can find on the beach. Put everything in a fancy bottle and make a little world – a whole world in a bottle. Don’t forget to draw letters and pictures in the sand, and also talk to your child about the importance of ocean conservation.

If you’re looking for more ideas for play dates with your child, check them out here

Read more related articles here: Parenting & Play by Friso