Key practice: Play and communication with children
Learning through play
Promote your child’s mental and social development during early childhood (0-8 years) through responsive and stimulating care by talking, playing, showing affection and providing a stimulating learning and safe environment for him/her.
Why is play and communication with children important?
- The experiences in a child’s early years shape their future health, happiness, the way they think, reason, solve problems, deal with feelings, solve conflicts and their learning achievements at school, in the family and community, and in life in general.
- A child needs to develop his/her mind and body. The development of a child depends how much love and encouragement s/he receives. Engaging in communication and play with children can therefore be done by:
- Initiating simple games using materials within the environment as play materials as well as physical and imaginary games.
- Talking with the child even though they are too young to talk back.
- Singing and dancing with the child.
- Listening to the child and responding with simple answers.
- Making and telling stories to the child.
- Using actions with the words and encouraging the child to repeat the words after you.
- Expressing emotion and appreciation like thanking and hugging.
- Providing the child with plenty of opportunities to develop their five senses - sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.
- Children play because it is fun. Play is therefore key to their learning and development. Playing, both structured and unstructured, lays the foundation for a child’s development of future learning and life skills. It helps children:
- develop their knowledge, experience, curiosity and confidence.
- learn by trying things, comparing results, asking questions and meeting challenges.
- develop the skills of language, thinking, planning, organizing and decision-making.
Watch this video
Learn more about age appropriate play with children
Benefits of communicating and playing with children
- It helps the child to develop his/her speech, his/her ability to think, confidence, control and how s/he relates to members of the family, other people and the society in which the child lives.
- It boosts children’s vocabulary.
- It encourages the child to ably participate in group activities as well as take turns during play with others.
- As children grow, they can follow and fit well into structured programmes e.g. school routines if they engage in communication and play activities during their early years.
- It boosts creative thinking, innovativeness, strategic thinking when children grow older.