The Benefits of Play-based Learning
“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.”: O. Fred Donaldson
A child with bowls and cups near a puddle opens the door to wild imagination! Wet sand is perfect to build with and that concept forms a base to learn about “why wet sand is easier to build with than dry sand?”; “can we use wet sand to stick things together?” or “how does wet sand dry?” Playing with the wet sand opens plenty of opportunities to learn while at play. This is what play-based learning looks like.
The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) defines play-based learning as ‘a context for learning through which children organise and make sense of their social worlds, as they actively engage with people, objects, and representations’. Play and learning go together, even across cultures, and evidence from many researchers will tell you the same.
What may look like “just fun” or a way to keep your tots engaged and out of your hair is actually one of the most important foundational elements in the development of your child, really! Here’s why:
Fine and gross motor development + body awareness
During play, your child is actively using his or her body. A marker can be fun when used for freehand scribbling. With practice, this fine motor skill is developed to form proper shapes and pictures later. Playing a game of hopscotch or catch-catch develops the physical body or the gross motor skills. Using their bodies confidently in play-based learning helps children feel more self-assured and secure in their environment.
Boosts brain development
When your young child plays, he or she is learning many things such as exploring, identifying, taking risks or negotiating. With high-quality play, your child builds memory, learns to regulate behaviour and all this helps your child to adjust better in school and academic learning later too.
Develop lifelong learning skills
When your child is engaged in quality play, it helps her develop lifelong learning skills such as problem-solving, lateral thinking and reasoning. Children at play interact with each other, collaborate with peers and with the adults around them. An empowered child is then motivated to learn more.
Whether it’s thinking about how to build something with simple Lego blocks or how to finish a puzzle or it is pretending to play the role of mummy and papa, play-based learning develops key thinking processes. This can set the stage for skills that come into use in adulthood too.
Builds confidence and motivation
It’s natural for any child to be drawn to play. When play is a pleasurable activity, your child is motivated and engaged. This further enhances learning derived from the play. Tackling activities and completing them successfully helps in growing your child’s confidence while introducing them to positive senses like accomplishment.
Enhances social development
Social skills are complex, yet, through play-based learning, the development of social skills happens uncomplicatedly. Following rules, giving and taking turns, sharing resources, and regulating emotions are the many benefits the play-based learning offers to your child.
Experience others’ points of view
It is during play that your child will learn how to get along with others. They will also learn to know what others are feeling during a conflict, or what their motivations and emotions are. Play is a dramatic opportunity to show empathy and care. For example, when Teddy gets hurt your child gives it a hug or covers the Dolly with a blanket because Dolly feels cold.
Encourages language skills
There is no doubt that play-based learning enhances your child’s language skills. Your pre-schooler develops language by interacting other players, during play. They ask questions, make conversation and learn new concepts that also help them learn new words, boost vocabulary. You know what the best part is? All this flows naturally with fun and enjoyable play.
Development of pre-literacy skills
Pre-literacy skills include skills like listening, following rules, recognising sounds, etc.. Play-based activities such as singing songs play a big role for helping build reading skills later on. Reciting rhymes helps your child to engage in music and rhythm, plus, the repetition boosts memory skills, which in turn helps your child to differentiate sounds.
Fosters creativity and imagination
Play fosters creativity and stimulates the imagination. To survive in today’s world and the future, enhancing these skills is vital. With play-based learning, your child uses her creativity and imagination to find solutions to whatever problems she faces during play. The world needs more creative problem-solvers, doesn’t it?
I think we can all agree that play is healthy and is very important for your child’s well-being. It forms a framework and a basis for your child’s future learning and coping abilities. When play and learning come together naturally, your child can understand what happens in the real world without confusion or complication. So the next time you tell your child “It’s playtime.” You might as well be telling them, “It’s learning time!”