Professionals working in early childhood education and parents of young children are often looking for creative ways to educate their child that are also fun. This is especially the case with children that cannot yet read or wrote. Water can be an ideal solution as not only is it fun and free, but also has many educational benefits. Here is an overview of some of the educational benefits of water play.
Water play opens up opportunities for children to explore different concepts and this can help their cognitive development. It introduces them to new ideas, challenges what they think they already know and can be used to develop logic and problem solving skills.
Water play can be used as a medium for introducing mathematical concepts and language. Understanding ideas such as ‘more than’ and less than’, or ‘ fuller’ and ’emptier’ can be difficult for young children to understand without the use of concrete apparatus and playing with water is a great way to help them understand such subjects.
Literacy and language skills
Water is an interesting way to introduce a number of language and literacy skills in early childhood education. Interaction with other children can help increase their vocabulary and the activities they are participating in support the learning of new groups of words, such as positional words or comparative words. Children will also have the chance to use description and explanation. A further language or literacy skill that can be taught is how to write or tell the story of their play experiences.
Children are naturally curious about the equipment and materials they play with and water play will prompt them to ask questions that will naturally lead to simple scientific discussions. For example, the importance to water for life is one topic, while the difference between solids, liquids and gases is another. Conversations can be adapted to the age of the children and their level of understanding.
In an early years education setting it is likely that children will be playing with water in small groups. This will lead to them learning social skills such as speaking, sharing, taking turns, teamwork and listening. They may also learn about good manners and considering the effects of their actions on others.
Using different activities can support the development of both gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are developed when using smaller pieces of equipment, such as funnels or tubes, and gross motor skills are enhanced when playing games that involve physical movement, such as lifting buckets of water or running from sprays of water.
Water play is a fun activity that can often be found in early childhood education settings and can also be used at home. However, water play is much more than just a fun activity as it also has many educational benefits for young children. These include the development of areas such as mathematics, language, physical skills, science cognitive development and social skills.