Playing with water is a great way to engage our little ones and have fun on a hot day, but that’s not all it’s good for! Water play for preschoolers can be so important when it comes to early development. One of our favourite activities here at Kids Club Early Childhood Learning Centres in Sydney is enjoying the amazing water equipment we have in our outdoor areas.
Water sensory play provides hours of rich and valuable early childhood experiences to develop children’s creativity and imagination.
We believe that the environment can be one of the best teachers, and what better way to learn than by having fun in water! The benefits of outdoor water play for toddlers include hand-eye coordination development and math and science concepts. It also enhances social skills and encourages cooperation.
1. Develop Motor Skills
Kids water play provides the opportunity to develop fine and gross motor skills across all age ranges. Actions like pouring, scrubbing, squirting, stirring and squeezing are all important movements that lead to increased fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Introducing children to new water-related textures (slippery, slimy!) and temperatures can be an amazing sensory experience and will also help them master their pincer grip. This can lead to them having no trouble at all holding a pencil at school. Actioning the water pump in our outdoor play area is one of our preschoolers favourite activities, and it sure helps to build those arm muscles!
2. Problem-Solving Skills
Water play for infants allows the exploration of new substances and gives children the opportunities to make discoveries. Observing a branch or paper float or sink will teach them, in a very practical way, how and why things happen. But above all, it encourages them to use their imagination and develop creative thinking, which plays an important role in problem-solving.
3. Language Development
The benefits of water play are endless – one of which being all the new words that can be learnt! Imagine the discussions you can have with your child while you are having fun with water. The conversations to be had using new words such as basin, damp, depth, drain, flow, drenched, drizzle and sieve are endless!
At strategic moments during water play with toddlers, educators will ask intentional questions to extend children’s thinking, expand their memory and use evidence to support their ideas.
We love seeing the interactions that the children have around water play when the Ocean and Outback Rooms share the outdoor area. There are a lot of bonds growing between the children in a big brother and big sister fashion. What an easy way to work on school readiness!
5. Science and Mathematics Learning
Did you know we use water play to teach basic mathematics? It will introduce children to terms such as Full, Empty, Half, Less. Science is everywhere around us. Children can measure, compare volumes, observe motion, count the rocks in the basin and notice the flow change as we move them. All these concepts are part of the curriculum in Kindergarten. What a fun way to work on Preschool readiness programs!
Educators should not only monitor them and make sure they have sunscreen and a hat when the sun is shining, but they also participate in the play – showing they value them and their activities. Looking for opportunities to stimulate fantasy play is an important part of developing imagination in making sure children have interesting options such as buckets, boats or dinosaurs.
At home, don’t hesitate to take buckets, cups, sifters or empty bottles to a shaded area out in the garden or on the balcony and participate with your children (what a great time to bond and play with your own inner child!) Don’t forget to stay sun-smart with your little one: don’t underestimate what some sun cream, a hat and t-shirt when playing outside in hot weather can have.
By engaging with your children’s play and imagination, they are learning as well as enjoying your company!
Pro Tip: Safety first! Use a small amount of water for the little ones, and ensure that babies, children and toddlers are never left unattended around water.