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The Power of Play-Based Learning in Child Development


Play-based learning is an approach to therapy that utilizes the child’s interests to achieve therapeutic goals. Therapists and parents allow the child to lead in their play and the caregiver’s goal is to build upon their play in a therapeutic way. In this blog post, we'll explore the key principles of play-based learning and how it can be a powerful tool for both parents and therapists in facilitating a child's growth and development.

Steps to Being Play-Based

Let Your Child Lead:

One of the fundamental principles of play-based learning is allowing your child to take

the lead. This means giving them the autonomy to choose activities and explore their interests. By doing so, you enable them to be engaged and motivated in their learning journey. This also allows

the adult to build a connection with the child, growing their relationship in a positive way.

Use Your Child's Interests:

Every child has unique interests and passions. Recognize and embrace these interests, as they can serve as a valuable gateway to learning. Whether it's dinosaurs, art, or building with blocks, tailoring activities to match their interests can make the learning experience enjoyable.

Build Upon Their Ideas:

Encourage creativity by expanding on your child's ideas. If they're building a block tower, suggest ways to make it taller or add complexity. This helps them develop problem-solving skills and critical thinking.

Create Just Right Challenges:

Adjust the level of difficulty to ensure that activities provide an appropriate challenge for your child. This balance between too easy and too difficult ensures that they stay engaged and motivated to learn.

Demonstrate Skills for Them:

Sometimes, it's beneficial to show your child how something is done, especially when the task or skill is new to them. By modeling skills, you help them understand the task, and they can then experiment and practice on their own.

Invite Them Into What You Are Doing:

Incorporate your child into everyday tasks and activities. For instance, cooking together can teach them math, science, and fine motor skills. This approach makes learning a seamless part of their daily life.

Set Aside Expectations:

Avoid focusing solely on outcomes and benchmarks. Instead, concentrate on the process of learning and the joy your child derives from it. Let go of expectations, and learning becomes more enjoyable for both you and your child.

Examples of Being Play-Based

How I Turn a Child's Interest Into a Skill-Building Activity:

Imagine your child's fascination with dinosaurs. This interest can be turned into a multitude of learning experiences.

  • You might engage them in a dinosaur excavation activity by burying “bones” on sand

  • Dinosaurs can be something we count or sort

  • Dinosaurs can be something we learn to draw or trace their feet

  • Dinosaurs can be something we pretend to be as we are climbing over couch cushions on the floor

  • Dinosaurs can be something we paint

  • We can also bake a dinosaur themed treat or snack


Incorporating play-based learning into your child's life can yield a multitude of benefits. It stimulates creativity, ignites new interests, develops a wide range of skills, and most importantly, strengthens the connection between you and your child. By following the steps to being play-based, you empower your child to explore, learn, and grow in a way that feels natural and enjoyable.

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