Playing games with your toddler may just seem like a bit of fun, but according to a senior lecturer in the Psychology of Education at Cambridge University, it is far more beneficial than teaching them to read and write at a young age.
Speaking to The Times at the Lego Idea Conference in Denmark, the developmental cognitive psychologist and former primary school teacher said,
'There's a big job to be done in terms of parental education. If you want your child to do well at school, then spend time with them in early life.
'They need episodes of shared attention, doing puzzles, reading books or playing with building blocks.'
Referencing the government’s ‘obsession’ with children learning the 3Rs (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) at an ever-decreasing age, the academic argues that although they are important skills, it is a waste of government resources – and a child's time – to teach them to toddlers.
Research shows that play leads younger children to become ‘self-regulated learners’, instilling an enjoyment of solving problems. Furthermore, children are better equipped with dealing with failure.
Although reading is valuable, it is not the ‘key’ skill for toddlers. ‘Instead, the parent can share something they love, such as making cakes or tinkering with engines; the key is partly sharing the enthusiasm but mainly the conversations you have with the child while doing it.’
‘The best advice is to play with them and have fun - anxiety is the killer of learning,’ he added.
An American study backs up the academic’s thinking. It found that by the age of 27, adults who as young children were taught to be self-motivated had achieved better academic grades, significantly higher earnings and far less involvement in crime than the control group.
What games do you like playing with your toddler? Comment below!