Exploratory Play: Everything You Need to Know
This is the type of play during which kids use their touch, taste, and smell senses to explore and get to know the world around them. Exploratory play lets infants learn about things that interest them in an intentionally created environment. The purpose is to create a curiosity in them to reach out and discover new information through investigating their surroundings. Exploring their physical environment contains a great deal of learning for toddlers and mobile infants. Major benefits of exploratory play include resourcefulness, problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills, increased self-confidence, increased self-esteem, and early childhood cognitive development.
It’s important to understand that exploratory play is all about the process, not the end result. Exploratory activities are a wonderful way to immerse the children into a broad range of adventures and experiences. As a result, kids often involve their entire bodies in the process.
Exploration prospers in an environment that strengthens trial and error, questioning, and curiosity. Consequently, parents’ role is to provide age-appropriate materials to promote exploration opportunities. They also need to add the appropriate amount of support to reduce the kids’ frustration. The materials provided by the parents are important to their children’s interaction, inquiry, and learning. For immobile infants, a small mat should be sufficient for the play. For toddlers and mobile infants, parents should define a play area, such as the children’s room or a corner in the living room. They need to encourage independent play by providing frequently changed and sensorial resources for learning. Resources need not be expensive materials, or toys and parents may use recycled materials like empty milk bottles, household items like baskets and spoons. Outdoor soft areas like a playground or grass in a park will be safe for exploratory play.
The play area needs to be age-appropriate, aesthetically appealing, and highly functional. The layout and furniture should provide infants with different opportunities to challenge them through what they see, feel, and touch. Such an environment helps infants to independently explore their environment, learn how to navigate, and ultimately master it. Well-designed spaces contribute properly to kids’ development and help parents in their role as facilitators of kids’ learning and self-directed play. These spaces also encourage kids to discover their own physical abilities when they crawl, stand, slide, and climb.
Parents should facilitate more exploration by playing alongside their kids and engaging them in different types of discovery experiences. For instance, during block play, parents can discuss sizes, shapes, and patterns.