Some time ago I read about a mother who had lots of experience moving. Her husband was in the military, and she had a system down pat, from boxing up the dishes to getting the kids settled in the new home. One thing she wrote was that as soon as the bare minimum was unpacked, she took a day off to take all the kids to a pool. She felt that kids were just more sociable when wet.
That stuck with me. My family moved quite a bit, although my dear husband was not in the military. Many of our homes came with swimming pools in the back yard, and it must have been helpful for usually the children did make friends. Our last address was sans pool, and sans friends as well. Guess what’s going back on the priority list for our next home?
The Importance of Water Play
If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, especially Child’s Play and Sand Play , then you can probably guess what I’m going to say. Water play helps the child develop socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Water Play Helps the Child Develop Socially
Look at kids in a pool. How many scowls do you see? Usually, not many. Total strangers become best buddies rather quickly. Splashing and dunking can be emotional outlets. Tossing frisbees and balls to a friend requires cooperation. A raft is more fun when you can push someone off, and play “king of the hill”. Falling is more fun in the water, because it doesn’t hurt. Kicking water is much healthier than kicking the wall.
Water Play Helps the Child Develop Physically
Physically, children develop coordination. At a water play table they may develop eye-hand coordination as they scoup, measure, pour, mix and stir water. In a swimming pool they may develop large muscles as they learn to swim, dive, kick, splash and jump off the edge of the pool into a parent’s arms.
Children Learn Math Concepts Through Water Play
Children learn pre-math concepts of size, full, empty, volume, measurement, and weight. They can learn science concepts like condensation, evaporation, gravity, sink-float, reflection, refraction, and magnification. Don’t things look different under water? Ever lay on the bottom of the pool and look up? What about sticking a spoon in a glass of water, and watching how the handle appears to bend at the water line?
Discovering The Properties of Water is Preschool Science
Water play, like everything you do with your child,can be used to teach vocabulary. How does the water feel? Use words like wet, slippery, cool (or warm), see-through, transparent, clear. Does it have a smell or taste? Not usually! Tell me what you are doing? How does that feel? What happens if… if you add some liquid soap to the water and splash? What would happen if you add some oil to the water? Try this – shake some pepper on the surface of a bowl of water, then dip a finger in liquid soap and just touch it to the surface of the water. Watch the pepper run away (disperse)! Why do you think it does that? (soap breaks the surface tension of the water). Try explaining that to a three year old! He may not fully understand the concept, but he’ll remember the lesson.
Bath time is great for many water play activities, but it is not enough. Fill a child’s splash pool this summer, and invite another child to come over. Take your family to a swimming pool often. Or better yet, to the beach! Combine water and sand play for a thoroughly enjoyable, educational afternoon! Just don’t forget basic safety guidelines. A child can drown in an inch of water. Don’t take your eyes off your child for an instant. Bathroom floors become slippery when wet. Kindly and firmly help your child learn not to splash water on the floor. Empty the splash pool when not in use. For more on water safety, check this out.
You Can Begin to Teach Your Child About Your Faith Through Water Play
Spiritual growth is a little fuzzier. Water is the symbol of cleanliness. If your child will witness a baptism soon, you can try to explain that the water of baptism washes the soul clean, just like a bath washes your body. When you go camping, you and your child can observe how a light rain nourishes the earth. While gardening, show how water brings new life to wilting plants. Preschoolers are a little young to understand these concepts, but not to be exposed to them.