SATs preparation: how play can help

Girl with lego tower
Noses in books and pens to paper are all well and good for SATs revision, but did you know that encouraging your child to play could also help them achieve their best during SATs?
With Key Stage 1 SATs and KS2 SATs taking place in May, we all want to know what we can do to help our children achieve their very best. So read on to find out how playtime could help your child succeed. 

The power of play

Did you know that play can support almost all areas of school performance? "Play has an integral role in child development," says developmental psychologist at the University of Nottingham, Dr Nicola Pitchford. "For example, pretend play helps children develop story-telling skills, supporting development of imagination and grammar, while constructive play requires children to focus their attention on the task at hand."

Why it works for SATs

When it comes to SATs, play is a great way to improve your child’s chances as it can hone skills that are essential for the subjects that are assessed. "Play facilitates the acquisition of basic cognitive skills that are used in English, maths, and science," says Dr Pitchford.
 
"Through play, children learn to represent things symbolically and start to understand the relations between objects and events. Symbolic representations form the basis of many skills learnt at school that are assessed through SATs, such as literacy, writing, spelling, numbers, shapes, space and measurement."

Let the games begin

"Parents can best support their child through the SATs experience by encouraging interactive play in a variety of contexts," suggests Dr Pitchford. "For example, parents can provide practical examples about numbers through asking their child to count out objects, or perform simple additions and subtractions with objects. Similarly, basic science concepts, such as volume, can be reinforced through playing with containers of different sizes and pouring water from one to another."
 
It’s easy to help with your child’s English learning through play, too. "Basic English skills can be supported through parents reading with their child, constructing stories together and rehearsing these stories with aids, such as puppets. In addition, parents can engage in socio-dramatic play with their children, in which they act out what it will be like to be assessed, thus preparing their child for the testing situation."

The toys and games your child already loves are also brilliant from an educational perspective, and they probably won't need too much encouragement if you suggest a Minecraft session, playing with Lego or other construction toys, a game of cards or a word game!

Remember, play shouldn’t take place at the expense of your child’s study, but it’s a useful development tool alongside it. And there’ll be no arguing with that!