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Importance of Play-Based Learning in Early Childhood Education

Parents and educators face a barrage of challenges in regard to early childhood education. Decades of child research, as well as modern neuroscience show that young children learn best when they are active. That means they learn best when they put their hands on things, interact with other kids and adults, move a lot, create and play. But, in the current school era, that is not what’s happening. There is heavy emphasis and focus on ‘rigorous instruction’ where young kids are made to sit in a classroom, on their desks doing academic work – with little physical education.

Parents of young children starting to look out for the best ways to initiate their little ones into early childhood education, often come across the term ‘Play-based learning’. But what is play-based learning? What does it mean?

In simple terms; children learn best through playing. When they are playing, children are exploring, engaging their imagination, taking risks, playing as a team and solving problems. They are inculcating valuable skills that support social, emotional, physical and cognitive development. Play is definitely our brain’s favorite way of learning!

Play-Based Learning

Play based learning is a defining feature of human development. Once hard-wired into us, it is extremely difficult to control and suppress. It is critical that we realize that while the impulse to play is natural, there is a part of it that must be cultivated carefully; parents need to understand the nuts and bolts of it. And this is where Play-Based Learning comes in. It is both child-initiated and teacher-supported. The teacher initiates and encourages play-based learning through interaction and inquiry. For example, if children are playing a game involving blocks, teachers can pose a question that encourages problem solving, predictions and hypothesizing.

Engaging in play based, real life and imaginary activities can help fuel your child’s creative and critical thinking.

Without a doubt, children learn and develop the most through first-hand experiences. Play encourages, stimulates and supports children in the development of their skills, understanding of concepts, how quick they learn a language, their communication skills and level of focus. They grow and develop through play because children are using all of their senses to engage in the activity. Play also helps them covey and relay their thoughts and emotions through the activity. They explore the environment around them and connect what they already know with what they don’t know to make sense and rationalize their surroundings.

Play lets children test their knowledge and theories against what they don’t know. It is the earliest form of storytelling. And, play is how children learn to communicate and connect with peers, learn to problem solve, and improvise.

Play based learning in the early years of a child has an array of benefits, some such being development of intellectual skills, motivation and thinking. The concept and idea of play-based learning has been adopted by many early years educators as a part of their pedagogy and practices. The importance of play-based learning for a child’s overall growth and development has been explored by researchers extensively, which led to the results proving that play-based learning is closely linked to, and associated with the development of the child’s intellectual skills, thinking and motivation.

Furthermore, as per a research conducted in 2012, the benefits of play-based learning in early childhood education are numerous! For starters, it contributes to cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children. It states that when children learn through play, it enhances the progress of early development from 33% to 67% by increasing adjustment, improving language and reducing social and emotional problems.

Some more benefits that play-based learning will have in early childhood education are:

  • Supports Pre-Literary Skills
  • Develops Social and Emotional Skills
  • Fosters Creativity and Imagination
  • Enhances Language and Literacy Skills
  • Boosts Confidence and a Positive Attitude
  • Develops Motor Skills, Balance and Hand-Eye Coordination

Children who miss out on the importance of play and do not engage in this type of learning are deprived of all these benefits. In addition to the very obvious physical benefits of play-based learning, lack of understanding and comprehension of the importance of play may lead to children not reaching their full potential and developing their cognitive skills. 

 

For play-based learning to work, parents must make sure that the environment encourages the child to participate. The following elements must be adhered to:

  • Self-direction: The child chooses what they play and how they play. Parents can accompany, supervise, suggest ideas. The child takes the decision.
  • Unstructured exploration: The child has the freedom to explore for themselves.
  • Fun: The child must enjoy the play. It should never be enforced.
    • Process-oriented: The child should understand that it’s the process of the play that is important. There is no perfect ending or so-called correct response to a situation.

The Learning Time A+ Program focusses on these very aspects, and:

  • Combines the latest in publishing and digital learning
  • Covers all three essential areas of success; awareness, ability and attitude
  • Is modern, multimedia and fun
  • Is play and activity based

The A+ Program:

  • Combines books, audio, video, apps, games and activities to engage today’s kids
  • Stimulates curiosity and awareness of the world around us
  • Develops essential skills like language, math, art.

 

Ask for a free demonstration, and test drive the A+ Program for your little one. You will surely find it useful.

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