With the push for kids to be learning more and more at younger ages, many people hear ‘play-based learning’ and brush it off as something that isn’t true learning. That couldn’t be farther from the truth! Study after study has confirmed that play is important -- it is self-chosen, enjoyable, unstructured, and inherently valuable.
Here are five things you should know about play-based learning:
- Children learn through play, and it is more than meets the eye.
- Learning through play is a method for children to make sense of the world around them. Through play, children can develop social and cognitive skills, mature emotionally, and gain the self-confidence required to engage in new experiences and environments.
- Play is important to healthy brain development.
- It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact with the world around them.
- Children are born with a need to move and find it hard to sit still. If they are allowed to choose developmentally appropriate activities, they can spend longer periods of time at these activities.
- Play and learning go hand in hand
- Children practice and reinforce their learning in multiple areas during play. It gives them a place and time for learning that cannot be achieved through completing a worksheet.
- Think of it like an apple. If you are handed a worksheet with a 2-dimensional drawing of an apple on it and told that the picture is an apple, how much learning do you get from that? Now, what if you are given a real apple and allowed to examine it, touch it, smell it, taste it, pretend to have a grocery store and sell it to a friend, cut it up and share it…the opportunities for exploring the apple are endless.
- Play-Based learning allows children to interact with their environment & each other to problem solve
- Each day provides opportunities to learn about reading, writing, and math through real, meaningful situations.
- For example, children may learn much throughout the day with activities like:
- Setting the table for snack and giving each child one napkin
- Stringing beads to match patterns on cards
- Waiting their turn because there is only room for 4 children at the art table
- Playing with blocks is never just ‘playing with blocks’
- When children play with blocks, they have a chance to become a giant. They can create whole cities and knock them down and control a miniature world. Wooden blocks, which are precisely measured, give children many experiences with practical math -- ‘two of these makes one of those.' Children have the opportunity to learn the properties of angles and physics. Block play fosters perceptual and spatial learning, social interaction, and problem solving.
Play-based programs can be an excellent way for your child to excel at learning, experiencing the world around them and building social and emotional skills. To search for child care centers and preschools in your area that use a play-based philosophy, click here.