Everyday activities can be fun learning opportunities. Pretending, creating and helping allows your child to discover new things. Play helps children learn about themselves and where they fit in the world. Evidence shows that play can support learning across physical, social, emotional and intellectual areas of development.
Children learn best when they are having fun and they are likely to be having fun when they are playing. Children’s learning is optimal when they are free to learn at their own pace and in their own way. It has previously been thought that educating children from an early age is ideal and that play has little value. However, research indicates that a work-oriented, rigid approach to learning is not likely to help children develop a love of learning or provide the skills and attitude they need to be life-long learners. Play is the way in which children learn best.
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 practice social skills
Long periods of uninterrupted play build children’s concentration and the inner motivation to take responsibility for their own learning
A positive sense of self is important in facilitating ongoing learning
What will this learning look like?
Lots of opportunity for children to engage in meaningful play. We actively create opportunities for children to engage and explore play that leads them to discoveries, new skills, and new ways of thinking. You will observe children practising their writing skills in the writing area, counting with games, puzzles and construction, being creative with art, blocks and sand play.
You will see children playing together, negotiating to share equipment, share ideas on how to build projects, playing games, remembering rules and being confident to talk in groups amongst themselves and with adults.
What you won’t see are children having formal lessons on numbers or the alphabet, although these may happen incidentally.
Our day has big blocks of time for children to engage with what they are interested in. When outside you will find the children playing games amongst themselves or with adults, practicing skills like running, jumping, ball skills, in the sand pit making cakes, building roads – measuring, counting, being creative. You will also find children checking the veggies in the veggie garden, measuring growth, watering plants and looking for bugs. All part of connecting with the natural world.
Inside you will find the children doing – puzzles, constructions, books, games, role play and creative arts. These are often done in small groups with educators mixing with the children.
Why is play is so important?
Play is very important for children. Through play children explore and learn to understand the world around them as they come to communicate, discover, imagine and create. When children play they are showing what they have learned and what they are trying to understand. This is why play is one of the foundations of the Early Years Learning Framework. A play based framework does not mean that children just do what they like all day. In a play based program there will be times when children come together as a group, listen when others are talking, follow the rules of group living and begin to take responsibility for their actions and their environment. Children are offered choices that reflect their developmental stage. The choices are determined by the educators and are provided within limits of safety and within the group setting