Learn And Play At Home

To help your children excel in life, you need to creative a positive learning environment in your home. Begin instilling a love of learning in your children at a young age. Encourage active play and follow these tips to build a nurturing, learning environment at home.

Preschooler with magnifine glass

1Instill a love of learning

You can't expect your kids to want to learn if you sit on the couch eating ice cream and watching Jersey Shore on a regular basis. Set a good example by watching news programs and documentaries on TV, renting educational videos and taking trips to the library as a family. When children are young, read to them every night. When they are old enough to read themselves, ask them to read out loud to you.

Children who are exposed to a broad base of knowledge at home will find it easier to learn in school. Visit the children's museum, zoo, botanical gardens and historical landmarks in your area and while traveling.

Learn about these six ways to raise a reader >>

2Take advantage of learning opportunities

Your kids can learn from everyday activities such as going to the grocery store or doing a home project. Talk with your children even during mundane activities and try to find lessons and opportunities for learning on a daily basis. Children are eager to learn from a young age. By spending time together and communicating, you'll continue to prompt their learning experiences.

Read about incorporating learning into play >>

3Encourage child-directed play

Everyone loves to play. However, play isn't just enjoyable, it provides many benefits to children. Play contributes to cognitive, emotional, language, social and physical development. Turn off the TV and video games -- these are passive components and you want your children to participate in active play. To reinforce positive play, parents need to enrich the environment with toys, games and objects that provide learning opportunities.

Physical play is when children are actively moving around -- running, jumping, climbing, throwing and so forth. Outdoor toys, balls, jump ropes and other simple items are suited for physical play. Discovery or exploring play fosters a child's curiosity. Sandboxes and water tables are ideal for discovery play. Creative play ranges from building with blocks, to painting a picture, to modeling clay. It's very important to foster your child's creativity.

Pretend play (also referred to as imaginative play) can include playing house, pretend shopping or playing doctor. This role-playing helps develop imagination, social skills, self-confidence, language skills, problem-solving and more. Cardboard boxes, dress-up clothes, plastic dishes, blankets and other items can create an inexpensive way for your children to play house.

Adults shouldn't control a child's play. That isn't to say they shouldn't be involved -- they very much should be. However, children should control the play in order to get the learning benefits such as creativity, leadership, problem-solving and other developmental skills.

Find out more about the importance of play >>

4Supply brain food

To create a positive learning environment at home, you need to make sure that your children are served healthy meals and snacks. During the first three years of your child's life, his brain is growing quickly. Make sure your toddlers and preschoolers get plenty of antioxidants, omega-3 essential fatty acids, complex carbohydrates and other essential nutrients for brain power.

Antioxidants protect your little one's brain from wear and tear. Serve plenty of blueberries, strawberries and other brightly-colored, nutrient-rich fruits and veggies. Nuts and seeds are also good sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant which protects brain cells.

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are healthy fats which are vital to brain and eye development. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, as well as walnuts and flaxseed, are rich in omega-3.

Whole grains are rich in fiber and help fuel the brain. These complex carbs give the body and the brain its energy. Select whole grain breads, pasta and rice, rather than white. Choline, found in egg yolks, beans, broccoli, yogurt and other foods, is an important nutrient for memory function and brain development.

By being a good role model, instilling a love of learning, providing learning toys and opportunities, and offering nutritious foods, you'll be able to create a positive learning environment for you child at home.

More playtime tips

The importance of play
Ways to incorporate learning into play
Lessons to teach while playing house

Tags: playing house

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