Play is the Way!
Play-based learning is a type of early childhood education based on child-led and open-ended play. If you’re picturing preschoolers finger painting or ‘playing house’, you’re spot on.
The research in early childhood education shows that play is essential for healthy child development. Play allows children to learn to be imaginative, creative and collaborative.
Play-based learning helps children develop social skills, motivation to learn, and even language and numeracy skills. Taking initiative, focused attention, and curiosity about the world are all a part of play.
“Play is our brain’s favoriate way of learning.”
– Diane Ackerman
At first glance, it might not look like much. In fact, it can look like chaos to the untrained eye. When you put the game of chase under the microscope, you’ll see many layers of learning. In the first layer, there is the chaser and the chasee. There is so much more under the surface. The minute one child decides they don’t like their role, negotiations are needed or the game is over. The children quickly learn that in order to keep the game going they have to be good friends and collaborate. Do they want to keep playing chase or play something else? If they want to continue to play chase, what are the rules and what are their roles? Are they kids, cats or jaguars? Who will be the chaser first? Is there a base? Having the freedom to play this way encourages creativity and collaboration, and this relates directly to their future learning.
Skills learned through play will serve them well for their entire lives. Activities like this lay the foundation for a child to become a curious and excited lifelong learner.
- To grow in independence
- To make decisions and choices
- To develop self-control and self-direction
- To learn to get along with and relate to others
- To develop curiosity, thinking, and reasoning
- To learn compassion, respect, and tolerance
- To develop language skills
- To develop an understanding of his/her physical world
- To develop large and small motor skills
- To build self-confidence and self-reliance by encouraging the expression of ideas
- To develop the idea that the church and the school are safe and supportive places for children.