Learning is without a doubt vital in every child’s development. Reading, writing, basic math… all of these skills have to be learned while they’re still very young. However, apart from what they’re learning, it’s also important to keep in mind how they’re learning it. Research suggests that learning through play is an exceptionally efficient method of imparting knowledge on children, primarily because they are enjoying themselves in the process. People from MindChamps have also confirmed this to us by saying that they base their teaching methods on this very principle, and they run more than 20 early learning centres in Sydney. But let’s dive deeper into the educational benefits of play.
Two main types of plays
Remember your old tests? Remember how stressed out about them you were? Now contrast that to the idea of learning through play. Makes a world of difference, doesn’t it? Imagine if you could’ve learned without worrying about your test results, just through having a good time with your friends. Well, today’s children CAN do that!
However, do not mistake play for free time where you don’t have to do anything. There are actually two different types of play – free (unstructured) and crafted – which have a role to play in a child’s development. Free play means that you allow the little ones to explore the space around them as they see fit, space that is hopefully full of interesting things they can use, touch and play with. They can choose to be artistic and draw something, they can engage in a physical activity or they can play with toys, all in an effort to do something that will teach them about the world around them. Of course, all of this is always supervised.
Crafted play is a little bit different because it has structure. It actually has a goal children have to reach, but it is nevertheless open to exploration and experimentation. In other words, children are not dragged by their hand to do something. Instead, they are allowed to enjoy the activity and learn through that.
Active play is very important
One thing about play that should be remembered is that it shouldn’t be static. At least, not all of the time. It’s absolutely fine to let a child sit down to draw something or to play a game with their friend(s), but the importance of physical activity cannot be overstated. Not only does movement improve children’s memory, but it can also help them be more self-confident and communicative. In addition, through physical activity, children become more aware of their bodies, so they become more coordinated and their motor skills receive a boost. Their immune systems also become stronger, their learning capabilities increase, and they can even develop social skills and learn cooperation if part of a team effort on the playground. Therefore, the benefits of raising an active child are quite numerous. The aforementioned cooperation, however, can be taught in a number of ways.
Theatrical activities teach a lot
Play-based learning can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The most important thing is that the children enjoy the activities and that they’re allowed freedom to explore. And if more of them are participating in the same (preferably structured, i.e. crafted) activity, the potential to develop teamwork is huge. Theatrical approach can have an enormous impact on that because it requires of children to go through a scenario together. By playing their roles, they learn about social skills, and a well crafted scenario can teach them a whole lot in a single situation.
For example, if two children are tasked with playing a customer and a seller in a shop, this is an opportunity to teach them numeracy and how to behave politely towards a person they’re not familiar with. They can also practice literacy because they will need to express themselves so that they can be understood (pronunciation and vocal strength is important here), and they may learn vegetables and fruits if the „shop” sells those products, for example.
The benefits of joining playgroups
Playgroups have another important function and that is to teach the child how to be independent. When they step out of their home where the attention is solely focused on them, children will need to face something new and different. That’s great and will help them grow as an individual. Furthermore, in such a group, all aspects of their mind will be stimulated, and they will learn everything from problem-solving to proper social skills. All through play. And the best part is that by learning this way, they will learn to love learning in general! All their memories of gaining knowledge will be connected to a feeling of happiness and to images of being surrounded by friends, which will make them open to new knowledge and discoveries.
So you see, play-based learning can help every child a whole lot. The grown-ups only have to be close to oversee things and provide necessary instructions. The rest, as they say, is child’s play – exploration, excitement, and enjoyment in new discoveries.