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The importance of Play-based learning

Hi everybody, and welcome back to Koodle's Blog. I'm Kat, a teacher and a mum of 4. In most of my classes, as well as when teaching my own children, I've used play-based learning with a merge between Reggio and Montessori style of teaching. Through years of experience with play-based learning there are definitely many benefits to this teaching style whether its home school, private school or public school. So, today we will be covering the trending topics guessed it... play-based learning. Let's get into it!

What is play-based learning?

It is without a doubt that children at a young age are motivated to play by nature. Using the context of play, play-based learning incorporate learning of diverse topics into play to encourage the children to be motivated to solve problems and think at a higher level. Children has the opportunity to be creative and active by exploring, experimenting, and discovering new things through wide range of activities in their surroundings.

There are many types of play-based learning, for now we will cover two types that most people are often confused about. The two types are Treasure and Favour, and Gamification.

Treasure and Favour is a type of learning that encourage children to search, identify and

collect. This certainly motivates them to use their cognitive thinking and problem solving skills to achieve their goals. It promotes all types of students to try and learn through play and be active with their peers to build their confidence and interactions. For instance a fishing game with alphabet letters on the fish and children with the rods, the children will be ask to search fish and will be ask to sound out or read the letter. If they got it correct they keep the fish, if not they let the fish go and repeat. This will prompt the student to look for the fish, identify the letter and finally collect their success. This tactic boost their social skills, teamwork, hand-eye coordination, and confidence as they fully immerse into the activity.

Gamification is play-based learning, however it does have some drawbacks as they are usually consist of competitive activities with scores and point system. With this tactic it only works with children who are active and competitive in nature but unfortunately it does not promote team building exercise and can cause anxiety and pressure to children who are insecure and are lacking in confidence. Let's go back to the fishing game, instead of wondering around searching for fish with a rod they will placed the fish on the board, have the children say the sounds, and then get a point per sound. Unfortunately for those who are shy and insecure may not feel comfortable in the spotlight of shouting out letters, which would lead to anxiousness, lack in confidence, discourage in socialising and generally not participating.

Why is play-base learning important?

Learning should be fun. Learning should not have tears involve. This method is important because children learn through play automatically as they are eager to explore their surroundings i.e. the World. Hands on activities, such as play, gives a positive attitude towards learning. And at the same time with an active play, it supports imagination, interests, determination, and excitement into the educational field. This process can develop more than just learning topics, it can hone in other skills sets that rote learning cannot provide such as, social skills, fine and gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and cognitive thinking.

Playing does mean learning

Many parents are still somewhat hesitant with play-base methods as this is a new phenomenon in recent years. People are comfortable with the idea of rote learning that is remembering facts and jotting things down because we've been doing it for many years. However, with the recent outcomes of such method it affects our young children very poorly with add on stress, anxiety, and lack of self-growth from homework, memorizing facts, the competitive nature of winning. With play-base learning, the activities and games are simply tools to keep them focus and attentive to the topics they are learning. They will learn at a faster rate because they are concentrating more to the things they enjoy doing. Simple as that.

How to use play-base learning

Before you consider using play-based activities at home, do understand that certain activities and games may vary depending on the child's age and ability. Different ability groups require different activities. It is not a one size fit all type deal. Do your research on your children's age, needs and interests. This form of teaching is a life style, so if you chose to be active with your children it is important to stay committed throughout the development.

For young children between 1 to 3, you can do the following activities:

  • Run and fetch

  • Mystery box

  • Sensory tubs

  • Music and dance

  • Field trips i.e. miniature farm, planetarium, the park

And that is just a taste of what play-based learning is and could be when used correctly. If you're a teacher or a parent, do try a wide range of activities that would work for you and put them on rotation. If one activity fails, move on. Don't wallow in your pain if the activity completely and utterly failed you (speaking in terms of personally experience). There are always going to be new activities to try and keep. Don't feel discourage, keep looking. Of course there are more to cover about play-based learning; hint hint. More on that, next time. Thanks for reading!

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