Reading and writing are fundamental skills that we learn as children and carry through every stage of life. Passion for, and understanding of, language helps us learn how to articulate our feelings, and opens doors to imaginary and real worlds alike. For many children, learning to read can be a difficult process filled with apprehension and frustration; however, it doesn’t have to be a challenge. Daniel Senn, CEO and Founder of Poio (www.poio.co.uk), the newly-launched reading app that provides a compelling, gamified alternative to traditional learning methods, believes that education through play is the best way to encourage children to embrace, and enjoy, learning. Below, he shares the top five benefits of educating via play.
It helps your child practice critical thinking
Reading and playing engage the part of the brain that is responsible for attention, memory, control, and critical thinking. When you pair the two together by gamifying the reading process, your child learns to contextualise what they read and apply it to their immediate environment. This in turn helps your child learn to identify important information more efficiently, helping to ultimately challenge and develop their growing brain.
Interactive reading helps to develop social skills
As children start attending school, making friends can be intimidating for both shy and outgoing kids alike. Reading and playing can help your child feel more confident in their abilities, and many games will encourage them to practice their social skills. Often, stories aimed at children will feature characters facing challenges and experiencing a range of emotions. This can give your child the opportunity to imagine themselves in similar situations and develop traits such as empathy and consideration. By discussing these scenarios with your child you, as the parent, are able to teach them about different emotions and how to relate to others, helping them understand the emotional responses and social skills they will need throughout their life.
Reading and play boosts creativity
Reading itself can be a creative outlet, but your child might not see this until they become confident readers themselves. By incorporating play into this process, you are allowing your child’s creativity to blossom – that’s how we created Poio the troll and the other characters in our game! My son came up with characters who he could help and relate to, while imagining himself into the story at the same time – making the entire learning process a lot more fun. In addition, using Poio as an example, we see children who have been hunting for letters and words in the game, starting to bring the same action into real life, trying to spell out the names of objects around them.
They learn to communicate
A recent study from the New York University School of Medicine found that reading aloud and pretend-play can offset disruptive behaviours, while improving children’s attention and focus. Any form of play, whether experienced independently, in groups, or guided, like Poio, encourages children to communicate, listen, and articulate thought. By learning to read through play, your child will speak the words they’ve learnt aloud, while voicing challenges they experience. Practicing communication while reading helps children expand their vocabulary and better convey their thoughts and opinions, helping them to better understand the world around them.
Children stay motivated
Children have endless energy that can sometimes be disruptive, especially when trying to learn a relatively quiet skill like reading. By encouraging your child to engage with characters and play out scenarios, you help them channel their energy into the task at hand, without becoming distracted.
When children feel they are being forced into learning or studying, it becomes compulsory and dull. However, gamifying the task can make them feel like choosing to learn and that it is their decision. This shifts your child’s thinking from ‘this is something I have to do’ to ‘this something fun that I want to do’. Not only does this shift make learning easier and more exciting for your child, but it also makes them feel empowered. By having the ability to choose an activity on their own, your child will automatically feel confident and determined to persevere through challenges, rather than forced or defeated.