|Lupoli explaining how children's brains work.
By SHAMALA VELU
Play is really the basis of learning in toddlers and young children according to Carrie Lupoli, founder of Live and Learn Asia, a consultancy firm focusing on children's special needs.
“Allowing your child to play with toys gives him or her many learning opportunities. However, there's nothing more valuable than parents getting involved in interactive play with their own children,” she said.
Lupoli was in Kuala Lumpur recently to conduct a parenting workshop on “The Power of ‘Interactive’ Play” organised by toy brand Fisher-Price.
The five-hour workshop, which was held at Empire Hotel in Subang Jaya, was mostly attended by keen parents and grandmothers.
“While children engage in play, they begin to develop thinking and problem-solving skills. This also helps to strengthen and develop their motor skills,” said Lupoli.
Play also unlocks a child’s creativity and imagination. This also helps to develop their reading, thinking, and problem-solving skills, paving the foundation for learning.
“Many of us take the word 'play' for granted, but this is how toddlers and young children start to understand how their world is being processed. Play is not trivial. When children play, they’re doing important work,” she quipped.
Lupoli, an American-trained special educator, has worked as both a special educator and administrator over the past 11 years. At the workshop, she encouraged parents to play with their children and be more aware of their needs and feelings.
“It's important to know the developmental milestones and what you can do with your children during those important stages of life,” she explained.
Lupoli said that the brain is the only non-developed organ at birth. A child’s experience in the first 10 years determines how the brain will develop. According to her, research shows that play-based learning develops and strengthens the connection in our brains.
“The most rapid brain changes and developments happen in the first three years of life. Thus, parents play an important role in the early years of their child’s life. They should engage children and get them into a mindset for learning. There is a lot of new research about the power of play and how it relates to brain development,” she added.
She also pointed out that parents lay the foundation for brain development which enhances success in later life. When a child plays, vocabulary and language skills are also fostered. Children hear and learn language without being aware of it. Thus, parents should communicate with their children more often.
Children learn to take turns, learn from each other and also learn to share toys via play. However, she warned parents not to switch on the television for long hours or give gadgets to young children.
“Technology can inhibit this cognitive skill from effectively developing. Give children the opportunity to explore freely so they can develop their creativity and imagination. Our world has changed and technology plays a huge part in it. However, it is important to understand that what is innovative and challenging in the world of adults in not necessarily the same in the world of a young child,” she explained.
Lupoli concluded the workshop by sharing the important things a child needs. Parents, she said, should try to:
- Encourage interaction;
- Offer physical affection;
- Provide a stable relationship;
- Maintain a safe, healthy home;
- Develop strong self-esteem;
- Choose quality childcare;
- Engage in conversation;
- Promote play;
- Make music; and
- Make reading a priority.
“These are crucial needs. Overall, play with your child. You will see wonderful results by spending quality time with your child,” she concluded.
|Participants at 'The Power of 'Interactive' Play' workshop organised by Fisher-Price.