Expert Articles

Learning by Playing: Inspiring Young Children Effortlessly

AuthorKwok Wing Man
Resident Social Worker at Tsung Tsing Mission of Hong Kong Joyful Place

Preschoolers are independent individuals with different personalities, abilities, interests, and developmental paces. As parents, who are the first teachers in their children’s learning journey, if we can understand their learning characteristics early on and incorporate appropriate learning and gaming elements into daily life based on their love for games, we can effortlessly inspire preschoolers.

As the closest and most trusted educators for young children, let’s start by understanding their learning characteristics.

Learning Characteristics of young children

According to the renowned developmental psychologist Jean Piaget’s theory of human cognitive development, preschoolers have the ability to learn, imitate, and adapt to their environment from birth. For example, they have the ability to suck and grasp objects and respond to adult expressions and actions. Piaget pointed out that preschoolers are naturally active learners, and they establish their cognitive understanding of the world through interactions with others. For instance, preschoolers may observe their parents’ joyful expressions and respond with smiles, or they may cry when they perceive their parents’ serious expressions. Piaget also emphasized that children aged 0–2 belong to the sensorimotor stage, where they learn abstract concepts through their five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch). He advocated using games as a medium for learning, allowing preschoolers to discover their own abilities, understand others and the environment, and build self-confidence through play.

Learning from Daily Life

After understanding young children’s learning characteristics, parents can prepare different materials for them to learn based on their love for games in daily life. When parents take their children for a walk in the park, they can try playing games with them, such as finding leaves of different shapes or flowers of different colours. They can even use leaves for drawing. This allows parents to bond with their children in nature while also helping young children understand the growth, shapes, and colours of plants.

Free exploration is a catalyst for effective learning, as it helps maintain and enhance preschoolers’ focus and interest in learning. Parents can provide opportunities for preschoolers to explore and discover knowledge and evidence. For example, parents can let their children draw on bathroom tiles while bathing and then let them observe how the paint changes when water is sprayed on them. Parents can also invite their children to touch small ice cubes, demonstrating how they melt into water when they come into contact with the warmth of their hands. Additionally, parents can let their children mix ice cubes in water at room temperature, observing how the ice gradually melts and disappears, helping preschoolers understand the different forms and changes of water.

Encouraging Sensory Learning

Parents can also encourage preschoolers to use their senses to explore the world during daily activities. For example, when eating fruits, parents can let their children touch the fruit skin (sense of touch) before letting them listen to the sound of tapping the fruit with their hands (sense of hearing). After cutting the fruit, parents can let their children observe the different colours and textures of the flesh and peel (sense of sight) and allow them to smell the fragrance of the fruit (sense of smell) before finally tasting it (sense of taste).

Creating an Accepting, Appreciative, and Caring Environment for Growth

During the process of growth and learning, it is inevitable for young children to face challenges. Parents’ acceptance, appreciation, and care are the best remedies for helping preschoolers grow from setbacks. If parents can create an accepting atmosphere that acknowledges their children’s abilities and learning progress, it will enhance their sense of security and willingness to accept new things and actively learn. As young children grow, they will become more accepting of themselves, develop better problem-solving skills, and become more resilient.

After reading this sharing, I hope parents will engage in more games with their children, using various methods and instilling confidence to inspire them further.


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Learning by Playing: Inspiring Young Children Effortlessly