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PREVIEW: What Your Preschooler Learns by Playing by Dr. Caron Goode

pereschooler_play_150pxChildren learn by playing. Whether it be blocks, puzzles, or the creation of an imaginary world. Fun and games teach. Child development experts have targeted six specific areas that benefit from play. They are—

  • Language development
  • Small muscle development
  • Large muscle development
  • Emotional development
  • Social development
  • Mathematical thinking

As your child’s first teacher, it is important you understand what he is learning when he plays. To do this observe him. Try to determine what skill he is practicing. Then take it a step farther by creating other opportunities for him to apply what he is learning.

Activities That Help Your Preschooler Learn
Each of the above categories develop through a variety of activities. Some overlap and some are very specific. Once you identify what skill your child is practicing you can determine what he is learning and how to help him apply his knowledge. You can start by using these common instances of learning through play to encourage growth and development in your preschooler.

Language Development – Helping children develop a good sense of language helps them better express themselves and their needs.


  • Even though your preschooler may not read, label some different color baskets for him to put his things in. For instance, you can label one toys and one shoes. Then show him the labels. This will help him identify words as symbols for though. This also allows him to use his mathematical thinking skills to sort.
  • Ask him to help you build a home for one of his stuffed animals. By putting his thoughts into words he is learning how to express himself, which is one of the cornerstones of communication.
  • Sing simple repetitive songs and nursery rhymes. Then add movement to the music. This requires that he listen, which is also an important component to language development.

Small Muscle Development – The small muscle group includes the hands, fingers, wrists, and eyes. Your Preschooler uses his small muscles to do things like tie his shoes and brush his teeth on his own.


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