PLAYING ESSENTIAL TO LEARNING
Children learn best when they’re having fun, and they are more likely to be having fun when they are playing, says the University of Melbourne Graduate School of Education.
Children learn best when they are able to learn at their own pace and in their own way, although it has previously been thought a more rigid learning environment from an early age is ideal and that play has little value.
Research, however, has found a work-oriented, rigid approach to learning is unlikely to help children develop a love of learning or provide the skills and attitude they need to be life-long learners. What are the benefits of play? ■ Play provides opportunities to improve fine motor and gross motor skills and maintain physical health. ■ Play helps to develop imagination and creativity. ■ Play provides an environment in which to practise social skills. What is play-based learning? A play-based program does not mean that children just do what they like all day.
A play-based program will look different throughout the day – at times children may play alone or with their friends and at others children will come together as a group, listen when others are talking, follow the rules of the group and begin to take responsibility for their own actions and their environment. What is the adult’s role within a play-based program? Within a play-based program, the adult’s role is to guide and extend the play activities.
Adults continually evaluate children’s play to discover what it is children are learning and to then help shape and extend this learning.