We already know how important it is for children to play. Playing helps our little ones build foundational skills for reading, writing, and mathematics; provides them with opportunities to socialize; encourages them to imagine and problem solve; and gives them the opportunity to express troubling aspects of their daily life.

We know play is essential. But what about all those real life moments when we can’t play: when we need to work, whether that is in the form of chores, or basic tasks, or simply a limit on the games?

Gamifying To-Dos

As adults we know that no one can play all the time, even kids. And yet, isn’t play something we are—consciously or unconsciously—trying to infuse into every aspect of the day? We sing songs in the car, make funny faces while tying shoes, and tickle tummies as we get our kiddos dressed for the day.

Instinctively, we know the importance of fun when engaging children to complete less exciting tasks. Articles like Scholastic’s “9 Ways to Make Household Chores Fun” turn cleaning and organizing tasks into a game that attempts to put the focus on the contest of it rather than the job of it. The happiness that various levels of fun bring our kids encourages us to find new ways to add to that joy, even while we are also trying to accomplish daily tasks and larger goals.

Rewards and incentives are often used effectively to encourage and motivate children to work towards certain goals. Often, the younger the child, the more immediate a goal is needed. So what if fun and rewards are incorporated into the same activity? Not only would children begin to see the task itself as being worthwhile, associated as it is with the fun, but routines and chores could move more smoothly. The less of a bottleneck between suggestions, actions and follow-through between you and your child, the better.

Playing and Learning Together

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) debunks the idea that there is a dichotomy between playing and learning, that children are engaging in either one or the other. For example, in one experiment two groups of children were given the same toy. One group was told exactly how to activate the new toy, while the others were left to explore the toy without explicit instructions. The children in the first group soon figured out how to use the toy, and eventually the free-play children did as well. But the exploration (second) group discovered additional uses and alternate approaches along the way. In this example, as in others, it comes down to the expectations and ultimate goals. Is it most important that children reach a specific conclusion quickly? Or is it just as effective if they are given the freedom to experiment and potentially arrive at different results? The answer will probably vary according to the subject.

In any case, playing and learning go hand-in-hand, especially for young children to whom it just comes naturally. As outlined by NAEYC, play is where children practice what they already know. They draw conclusions from the various outcomes that occur in the midst of play, and consider how those results will affect the rest of life. It’s how they explore their place in the world and emulate the positions of those around them.

Many studies, including one from Scientific American, have shown that multi-sensory integration is a big part of how we learn, and the more senses you can bring in to help you build out your understanding of concepts, the better the information is learned. Using multiple senses allows more cognitive connections to form and associations to be made in relation to the construct. Consider the sound effects made, the pretend food eaten, the songs clapped along to, the colors used. Together, they all form a multi-dimensional experience.

KazuTime was created to be a tool to help parents stay on their schedule, a learning device to teach children about time, and a game that is genuinely fun and interesting. After all, nobody knows play like puppies do! So while some may once have thought that activities had to be either purposeful or fun, and included a similarly limited focus, we look forward to seeing parents and their children continue to explore outside the box and find out what works for their unique family dynamic.