Your 5 3/4-year-old: Learning through play

Your 5 3/4-year-old: Learning through play

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Your 5-year-old now

Pause to watch your child play and you may notice a new level of complexity taking hold. The imagination of an older 5-year-old is a wonder to behold.

In dramatic play, for example, whether with dolls or friends playing dress-up, plots become more twisted and characters more well rounded with complicated relationships to one another.

Your child can better predict how people will act and includes observations of what she sees happening around her. This kind of play nurtures growing social skills. Kids learn everything from negotiation to conflict resolution and compromise.

Research also shows that make-believe play helps kids learn to self-regulate. When they play, they often talk to themselves about what's going to happen and how they're going to react. They're "rehearsing" real life.

These are skills that can't be developed while sitting in front of a computer or TV screen, and they're crucial. In fact, a child's ability to manage her emotions and impulses is more important than IQ in predicting success in school. Kids learn better when they have self-control.

Your life now

Worried you have no time to read the paper, let alone a good book? Make time for it, ideally while your child is playing nearby and can see you. Being a good reading role model is an excellent way to reinforce the habit in kids.

Caveat: If you get most of your reading done online, point out to your child what you're doing. She may just equate a screen with computer games, even if you're sitting there reading the paper.

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