What Young Children Learn from Water Play
Water and play fit together perfectly for child-friendly fun and learning.
Through water play, your child can enjoy splishy, splashy experiences and learn some great life lessons too! Many water play activities are linked to learning and child development.
Did you know water play encourages math skills, language enrichment, scientific concepts, creativity, and social skills? In addition, through playing in a paddling pool, young children are encouraged to develop physically and learn to swim.
How can you link play activities in a pool or paddling facility and encourage hands-on learning?
It’s easy and you don’t have to dive in at the deep end!
Here are six areas of development children can grow in through water play.
1. Physical development and learning to swim
First and foremost is the opportunity for physical development and some co-ordination leading to confidence in the water. Building children’s strength through moving in the water develops balance and muscle tone. Children who may be fearful of water will soon overcome their fear by enjoying water games. Learning to put their faces in water and blow bubbles is one of the best pre-swimming lessons. Starting out in a small pool and having fun is a great introduction to swimming.
2. Mathematical learning
Math concepts of more or less, full and empty, or counting containers filled with water, are part of water play. Measuring amounts of water in jugs, cups, and different spoons, contribute to early math development.
3. Language enrichment
Interaction during water play is a great opportunity to develop vocabulary associated with pouring and measuring. Words about water will be more realistic as you splash and experience getting wet. Find some entertaining water songs and rhymes to learn too.
4. Scientific concepts
Water play provides a great opportunity to learn about liquid and solids, floating and sinking, and full or empty. Talk about the value of water. Where water comes from and the water table. All this is more meaningful when the water is there to play with.
Water play is the perfect opportunity to have some role play. Pouring tea, washing and cleaning, pretending to be a fish in the ocean or having a beach holiday. These are just a few of the games children will enjoy. Provide lots of different play items like plastic cups and funnels, sponges and spray bottles. Jugs and measuring containers, all these items are useful for creative water play.
6. Social skills
Water play creates a very sociable occasion. Children can interact with other children while relaxing in a pool of water. Sharing toys, and taking time to enjoy each other’s company, is all part of a social pool experience.
Don’t forget pool safety while you are socialising. Never leave a child unattended near a pool of water. Accidents can happen and you don’t want to spoil the social experience.
Added to all that! Time in a pool develops motor skills.
• Fine motor – pouring and collecting items like floating corks
• Gross motor – lifting buckets of water or picking up floating balls and larger objects
• Eye-hand coordination - tea time fantasy play, water being poured from teapot to a cup
• Sensory development – understanding wet and dry, liquid or solid
Water play allows a child to develop through exploration and practical learning experiences.
“Water is the driving force of all nature”, said Leonardo Da Vinci. How wonderful to know that by providing a simple paddling pool, this force of nature, can be at work in your home.
Picture credit: The picture of little Olli in the bucket comes from our friends at aquaDucks. They are Singapore's pioneer swim school with multiple locations islandwide! They advise all parents to always supervise their kids during water play - it's key for water safety!
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