Playtime is an integral part of children’s learning and growth. It helps them to make sense of their world, try out new ideas, consolidate existing knowledge, and develop new skills. Children learn best when they are actively engaged and having fun which is why play-based learning programs are starting to pop up.
What is Play-Based Learning?
Play-based learning is a new approach to teaching and learning that is being implemented in early childhood settings across Australia. The play-based learning approach is based on the premise that play is an important and significant part of children’s lives, and should be recognised as such in early childhood education and care.
In play-based learning, everything starts with play. All activities and experiences are designed to be play-based, with a focus on child-initiated and child-led play. This means that children are given the time and space to explore, experiment, make mistakes and have fun!
You can start this at home too, by letting your child play and explore. This doesn’t have to be expensive – everyday household items can be turned into toys and games. Get down on the floor and play with your child, or just watch and enjoy their playfulness!
Play-Based Learning Theory
In theory, play-based learning is based on the work of early childhood education pioneers such as Lev Vygotsky, Jean Piaget, and Maria Montessori:
- Vygotsky believed that play was essential in developing higher-order thinking skills. He believed that through play, children learn to think abstractly and to solve problems.
- Piaget on the other hand, believed that play was important for the development of cognitive skills. By playing, children learn how to think logically and to understand cause and effect.
- Montessori believed that play was important for the development of social skills. She believed that through play, children learn to cooperate, share, and resolve conflicts.
This has been practiced for generations, but play-based programs have only recently been formalised and given a name. Educational systems have tended to focus on more traditional approaches to teaching and learning.
However, there is a growing body of research that shows the importance of play in children’s development and learning.
Benefits of Play-Based Learning
Children who engage in play-based programs at childcare or kindergarten engage all their senses while they play, which helps them be grounded through learning experiences.
In the early years of framework, play-based learning is one of the practices that help children to develop their identity, connectedness, and well-being. We list down below some of the benefits that play-based learning has for children.
Pressure will be taken off little ones (and their parents) if play is the focus of early childhood development and care settings. This is because play is a stress-free way for children to learn.
Stress is least observed during play since children are exposed to situations that use emotional skills and motor skills.
Play-based learning lets them explore different roles and scenarios without judgement. As play is child-led, children can explore their interests and try out new ideas in a safe and supportive environment, making them more confident in their own accord.
It also makes them try new things such as exploring through their writing or drawing skills.
Children get to choose their own activities
As play-based learning is child-led, they can make their own ways and rules. This helps them learn at their own pace and in their own way. Making their own rules also helps children to understand the concept of consequences. This will give positive influence to the enquiry processes of the child.
Allows children to cooperate with others
Play-based learning allows children to interact from one child to another, or in a group. Playing with others helps children to engage in social skills such as cooperation, sharing, and language development.
It immerses children in the mode of turn-taking. Role plays are a great way to encourage children to cooperate with others, and this learning style also helps them with their emotional skills and their exposure to others.
Aids in academic achievement
Studies have shown that play-based learning can help children to achieve their academic potential. This is because play helps children to develop the academic skills and academic knowledge that they need for success in school. Academic learning is one of the top benefits of these learning processes.
Importance of Play-Based Learning
Introducing play-based learning in early childhood settings has become widely popular as it provides a fun alternative and opportunity for children to learn through play. Play is an important part of children’s development and should be recognised as such in early childhood education.
Parents also play an important role in play-based learning. They can support their child’s play by providing them with opportunities to play and by encouraging them to explore, experiment, and try new things. Here are some of the important skills that your child can develop from play-based learning.
Develop social skills
Interaction with others is a big part of play. Through play, children learn to cooperate, share, and resolve conflicts. They also learn about turn-taking and how to be a good sport. It involves them learning to understand and follow rules and agreements. It will be the child’s stepping stone for their cooperation and language skills.
Aids in making relationships
By interacting with children from different cultural backgrounds, play can help to break down barriers and create understanding and respect for others.
It also allows children to learn about different social worlds and to develop a sense of belonging. With social interactions being frequent, it gives more opportunities for children to interact with others.
Introduces new interests
Play allows children to test new things and activities. It provides children with the opportunity in engage in new things and explore their preferences. Play-based learning also develops a sense of identity and helps children understand who they are and what fits them.
Children will develop eventually with a specified set of interests that will potentially aid their success at school.
Improve problem-solving skills with others
Through play, children learn to think abstractly and to problem-solve. It aids in reasoning and deduction, and they learn how to think logically.
Play also helps children to develop motor skills with the different activities that they can engage in, and to become more coordinated. It is another approach compared to traditional classrooms.
Helps children express their individuality
Play-based learning helps children develop their own identity, since play allows them to express themselves and try out different roles.
It helps the child to understand their own likes and dislikes and to develop a sense of identity. A play-based approach will also let a child be creative and try to develop their own context for learning.
Okinja ELC practices Play-Based Learning
At Okinja ELC, we provide quality play-based programs where children can learn through play. We believe that play is an important part of children’s development and should be recognised as such in early childhood education and care settings with a modern play-based classroom.
Our play-based learning environment is designed to promote the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development of children, which helps not only with their literacy skills, but also promotes their academic skills for the future.
Contact us now at email@example.com and let your child begin their learning journey with us!