If you walk into your child’s Child Care classroom, what can you expect to find your child doing? Are the students all sitting around small tables, reciting their numbers and memorizing sight words? Or do they seem to spend a lot of time playing in their classroom?
In many of today’s classrooms, there is a push for early academic achievement, which is why you will find their students glued to the chairs. But the latest research documents the importance of play-based activities in early childhood education, and education centers around the world are starting to incorporate structured play into the curriculum.
What exactly are play-based learning Child Care activities, though, and why are they so important? What is play-based learning?
Play-based learning is more structured than free play yet less structured than schoolwork. It is a type of play that is purposeful and guided yet allows the child to take the reins. It’s not simply putting the kids in a classroom and letting them do whatever they want. Instead, play-based learning is made up of activities carefully selected by the teacher, complete with thoughtfully chosen materials. The students are then allowed to interact with these materials and activities in any way they choose. The teacher facilitates conversations around these activities in a way that the students are learning while they play.
The importance of play-based learning Kids learn a number of life skills through play-based learning:
● Delayed gratification
● Taking turns
● Communicating with others
● Negotiating with peers
● Problem solving
Additionally, they can learn literacy, mathematics, and language skills, all while playing. For example, during dramatic play, students will learn math skills by adding the number of cups and plates that they have. Or, when given some crayons and paper, they can learn the names of each color and describe the scene they are drawing or coloring using their language skills.
Types of play-based learning activities When it comes to learning through play, the possibilities are endless. Here are a few types of play-based learning activities:
● Making and dressing up in costumes
● Building with blocks and LEGOs
● Cooking or grocery shopping with play food
● Playing with play dough
● Discovering the outdoors
● Playing with sensory bins
● Reading together
When you give a child a sensory bin, they can learn how to measure and count. Reading books together and asking questions about the story evokes curiosity and leads to exploring new ideas. Even outdoor play can teach an appreciation of nature as the children learn about the world around them.
We live in a results-driven world. While play may seem frivolous in the classroom, children learn about the world through play. Young children learn differently than older children. They learn by interacting with the world around them. They learn by touching, by exploring, by creating, and by discovering. Play-based learning encourages learning in the way they best know-how.