4 Easy Tips on How to Encourage Deconstruction in Play and Learning

Find out why deconstruction is so important in a child's development and how you can encourage it through play.

Toddler seated up surrounded with play things and books.

What is Deconstruction in Play and Learning?


In simple terms, deconstruction is to break something down. But to be more pedantic, it is a philosophical movement formulated by Jacques Derrida that started in the 1960s and was firstly applied to literature. In our context, it would be to break down concepts, words, objects into more basic and easy to understand parts. This breaking down process helps a child comprehend more complex objects by first identifying and observing the multiple components that makes them whole.


This is not a novel concept and in many ways, parents have been practicing this concept to their children's play and learning. Think about when your kid tears down the stacked blocks or when we try to break up a word to teach them phonics. It is deconstructing in different ways.


Why Is It Important for Young Kids


Two of the most important life skills are problem solving and the ability to learn quickly. Both of these skills require the ability to break things down or deconstruct, into manageable parts as suggested by learning gurus of the likes of Tim Ferriss. This is because for children and adults, learning new and more complex things can be overwhelming. If you help a child break down more complicated concepts into its simplest parts, it will not only allow the child to better understand specific objects but also help them draw connections with other objects which share basic parts with it.


The sooner your child is exposed to think this way, the more natural it will become to them. It will provide them with a base method of better understanding the world around them. More importantly, it will help them in leverage on their existing knowledge to connect deeper and more complex concepts.


How To Encourage and Observe Deconstruction in Play


Here are some simple tips on how to nurture your preschool child toward deconstruction thinking during play time:

  1. Don’t discourage - When a child breaks apart something you created or an older child created, explain to the older child about why younger children enjoy it. Let them enjoy the destruction and encourage them to rebuild.

  2. Encourage appreciation of the parts and reconstruction - While your child builds something, talk to them about the different components which makes the larger object they're building (e.g. colours and shapes). Let them understand that there are different paths they can take and how they can build different things using the same basic parts.

  3. Cross pollinate ideas - Put together non-related toys and play things and let them explore using them together. This will help to expand their creativity and adds another dimension of fun

  4. Engage them - Talking to your kids is key. When outside, talk about the different things you see. What makes them what they are? Start with simple concepts first such as shapes, colours, textures. As they grow older and build enough concepts and vocabulary, you can then progress on more to more complex subjects such as how things around them work or are made. And then gradually to even more abstract concepts.


Children at the age of 3-6 have built some knowledge of their environments and a certain level of literacy capabilities. This is the time where you can exploit these fundamental skills to build on their learning abilities. Seize the moment to deconstruct now!

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