Learning Through Play

Learning Through Play - Playtesting at Loud Croud

The power of fun and how it impacts your child’s development

What does it mean to play? From an adult perspective, we often associate the act of play as something that’s fun and relaxing; in some cases, it might even appear to be a luxurious waste of time. This is because adults see play as the opposite of work. Since work involves concentration and effort, play should be effortless and enjoyable. Yet for children, especially toddlers, self-initiated play is as much about knowledge as it is about indulgence. It’s through fun and recreation that children develop social and cognitive skills, as well as gain the confidence to engage in new experiences and environments.

That’s the power of play.

How Play Impacts Early Development

Current research shows that early childhood experiences have a major impact on a child’s brain structure and development, literally shaping the way a child thinks, behaves and interacts with others. Furthermore, the act of play has been found to directly impact language, physical, cognitive, and social development. Consider the simple, repetitive actions of a three year old. Whether it be brushing a dolls hair or reading the same story over and over again, these repetitive acts provide a child with a great deal of information. The act of discovery (and rediscovery) through repetition is what helps a child become more cognoscente of the world around them.

Roger Lee, Design Director at Loud Crow“Play is a very powerful tool, especially in the world of educational application development. By including simple, tactile interactions in our applications, we’re able to create an experience that’s highly engaging for children.”

– Roger Lee, Design Director at Loud Crow

Just take a look at the child in the following video. Left to investigate one of Loud Crow’s apps during a recent playtesting session, this child was immediately drawn to the character’s responsive bobble-head effect.

We adults may not be able to figure out what the child is discovering here, but there’s no denying the child’s level of engagement. For developers here at Loud Crow, this has meant rethinking our attitudes towards self-initiated play, particularly what kinds of interactions will have a positive impact on a child’s development. “The interactive features that appeal to a four year-old likely won’t engage a seven year-old on the same level, and vice versa,” says Lee. “This is why playtesting and user feedback is such an important part of our development process.”

The Important of Playtesting

When it comes to developing age-appropriate educational applications, there’s only so much that an engineer can do. Ultimately, we’re guided by the feedback that we get from our youngest customers. “Playtesting is a crucial part of our development process,” explains Lee. “You’d be amazed at what you can learn simply by observing a child at play. ”

While children are the main focus of Loud Crow playtesting events, parents are also asked to give their feedback on a variety of topics. Not surprisingly, many parents feel that the most valuable educational apps should be more work oriented than playful – the act of learning to read should require the child to focus and think. While this is certainly a valid concern, it’s equally important that a child has the opportunity to learn from their self-created experiences. That’s why all of our Loud Crow apps feature word highlighting and self-guided reading functions. Even though the child might not be able to fully comprehend the story or properly read the narration, the visual cues and responsive text provides young minds with the opportunity to create their own understanding through touch, sounds, and sight. In many cases, this type of tactile experience is what helps form the foundations for academic learning later in life.

The more children learn from their own play, the better prepared they are to learn from formal academic instruction later on in life. So don’t be discouraged if your child becomes taken with the bubbles in The Going to Bed Book or amazed by the stars in the background of Goodnight Moon. This is neither a waste of time nor a sign of confusion. It’s simply your child’s way of learning through play.

Want the chance to check out our new digital story apps months before anyone else? Then join our nest of playtesters to receive notification on upcoming playtesting sessions and events.

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