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Fri, Nov 19, 2010
SPH, Special Projects Unit
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Learning through playing
by Grace Ma

When four-year-old Caylen Chew comes home from nursery school, he would spend his day doing things like stacking up blocks, reading food labels, singing rhymes and sometimes beat-boxing.

His mother, freelance editor Dorothy Lim, 43, believes that children learn quickly through new experiences and interaction with adults.

"Experiencing, reading, singing, playing and conversing - all these are serious modes of learning for them," says Ms Lim. "So the more interaction and the more experiences we expose them to, the more their brains will be wired up."

She teaches Caylen different skills through everyday experiences such as letting him count the cookies he eats, reading posters or talking to him about his experiences throughout the day.

Seeing that he is musically inclined, Ms Lim and her husband Chew Ching Keh, 44, a communications director, also encourage Caylen to listen to the different instruments whenever he hears music.

"I made up a song to teach him how to spell his name and he likes that," Ms Lim says. "He plays imaginary games where he is a director making a movie or an astronaut or a fireman. These kinds of role-playing are fun and also a way for him to learn about his world."

Madam Sharifah Nur Famela, 31, shares the same view. Besides roleplaying, the secondary school teacher would do things such as sorting coloured balls and stringing beads to make necklaces with her children Adil, four, and Ana,13 months.

Her husband, a fitness coach, would play hockey or ball-catching with the children in the living room. On rainy days, they gaze out of the window to observe different sights and sounds.

Both mothers are firmly convinced that playing does more than just helping a child to learn; it also bonds the family. "I think the children enjoy just about anything because it means mummy and daddy are sitting and playing with them," says Madam Sharifah. "I don't think they care very much about how interesting or educational the activities are."

Agreeing, Ms Lim says: "When we spend time playing, we are creating memories for Caylen. We hope he will remember that he was treasured and loved for who he is."


This article was first published in The Straits Times.

For more The Straits Times stories, click here.

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