Play-based learning is a concept you might have come across, scouring the internet for the best schools to take your kid to. And, we know what you might be thinking. Given that older generations grew up in a learning environment where the words “play” and “learn” were never to be in the same sentence ever, the sound of play-based learning can be concerning.
You have every right to question the learning and teaching methods that your kid’s potential school is using. This is the future of your kid we are talking about. This school is where your kid is going to be for 6 to 8 hours a day. The best school for your kid is one with the best program.
But, first, what is play-based learning? Is there really cause for concern about this method of teaching? In this article, we will give you all of the 411 on this progressive teaching method.
What is Play-Based Learning?
From the words that make up the concept, this method of teaching is simply learning through play. But, how did we come to this? How did we come to learn that play is useful in developing children’s cognition and intelligence?
It all started with well-known psychologist and child development theorist Jean Piaget, who said education shouldn’t just be passing down known knowledge from the old generation to the new. Education should be able to drive children to discover new things from their early years throughout their lives. And he found that traditional teaching or direct instruction does not encourage children to develop this interest in discovering. Instead, kids just absorb and memorise.
So, what approach do we now use if direct instruction is not doing the job? Some time ago scholars found that play has a crucial role in developing the minds of young children in their early childhood. We know play as activities that kids enjoy and voluntarily participate in, where they are encouraged to explore and develop that nature to be curious. These are all the traits we need kids to have in order to develop their interest in learning.
But, experts found that pure play is not enough. Without any clear direction, children might just end up having more questions than answers. That is where our teachers come in. In play-based activities, children initiate while teachers support them to ensure maximised learning.
Examples of Play-Based Learning
If the concept of play-based learning is still unclear, some examples of activities typically done in a play-based learning classroom might help.
Water play, for instance, is a favourite activity among children. They can learn plenty while playing in the water like scientific concepts such as states of matter, volume, and refraction of light. While in a pool of water, children also learn how to follow rules and how to be accountable for their actions.
Play dough is another favourite. Teachers use play dough to teach many concepts like shapes, colour, animals, kinds of islands, and many more. On top of learning new concepts, children’s creativity and fine motor skills are also enhanced through this activity.
Learn how to make play-dough with your kids
Role-playing is an activity many teachers use to help children understand different kinds of professions or well-known figures in history. It’s also a useful approach to teaching kids about empathy. When they are asked to wear the uniform of a policeman and act like one, they can better understand the responsibility that many police officers hold.
Some more examples of play-based learning activities are blocks, puzzles, and shape sorters. Do you want your kid to one day become an engineer, architect, or artist? Get them started by playing with blocks, puzzles, and shape sorters.
These materials help them develop spatial thinking, logical reasoning, and ordering. They learn to explore how to manipulate these blocks to ensure a structure that doesn’t topple over or a structure that ensures it can support heavy weight and so on and so forth.
Finally, singing and dancing are just other examples of play-based learning that have been tried and tested. There is a reason why your kid was able to memorise the alphabet from hearing the alphabet song. Concepts are much easier to remember when they are sung in a song mainly because of the patterns in a song. The same goes for dancing.
Why Play-Based Learning is Important
With the list of examples provided, perhaps the concept of play-based learning has become much clearer to you. As for the reasons why it’s important, we’ve found plenty and narrowed down the list to its best positive impacts.
Since play often involves interacting with other children, a child learns how to socialise and communicate. For something as simple as borrowing a toy or asking for more clay, children learn how to make decisions on their own and develop confidence in themselves. They also learn how to work well with others.
Through play, children also learn how to distinguish their rainbow of emotions and how to properly handle them. Conflicts during play times are teachable moments for instructors to get children to understand the concept of playing fairly.
Play is also some form of outlet to let out frustrations and anxiety, which is also good for children.
First off, what is cognitive development? All it is is the development of one’s intelligence. And, yes, children get cognitive development through play. They learn how to solve problems, how to verbalise their thoughts and intentions, and how to interpret sensations.
All kinds of games or activities that encourage children to play lead them to discover and understand bodies of knowledge that they would have struggled to absorb if simply taught to them through a lecture.
In play-based learning, they get to use all of their senses. So, for instance, to teach them about the different kinds of textures of solid matter – rough, soft, hard, smooth – teachers can make children feel different items that fall under the given categories. So, from there, they not only have a book definition of what rough, soft, hard, or smooth is. They also know what each kind feels like. They know the differences between each type of texture.
Because play allows children to move around their learning environment, they get to exercise their tiny little bodies to make them stronger. And of course, we all know the physical benefits of exercise.
Play also develops children’s gross and fine motor skills. The more art activities you give them, the better they are at holding their pens and pencils and crayons. More play can also mean more movement, so as they run or jump or dance, they learn how to control their bodies and body coordination.
Image Source: iStock
Play-Based Learning in Singapore
If you’re sold on play-based learning as the ideal curriculum for your child, then you might want to consider enrolling your child in a school that promotes play-based learning.
However, remember the old adage that says, “Learning begins at home.” So take this as a sign to put down your mobile phones and start playing intentionally with your child today.
Montessori Education For Your Child: What You Should Know
Songs to Share With Your Baby for Sleep, Learning, and Dancing – Add Them to Your Playlist Now!
10 Things to Consider in Choosing a Childcare Centre in Singapore