The Value of Learning Through Play
Play-based learning takes place in many daycares and early years settings as there are many benefits of learning through play. Learning through play is something that many preschool settings adopt and put into practice as research has highlighted the importance of play when it comes to child development. For instance, learning through play enhances the development of thinking, motivation and intellectual abilities.
We will outline four ways which highlight the value of learning through play for children in the early years.
1. Play-based learning enhances social and emotional skills
The development of social and emotional skills is closely linked to play. When children play games which require cooperation, not only do they enjoy playing these games, they also give children the opportunity to have social experiences with their friends. These opportunities also allow children the chance to feel that they belong to a community. When children feel that they belong, they are more inclined to feel engaged when it comes to their learning.
Positive relationships are also linked to learning through play. When children play together they learn how to get along with each other, share, take turns, communicate what they feel/ need, co-operate with one another as well as resolve conflicts. Empathy is developed through play as children learn about how it feels to feel a particular way. Therefore, it is crucial that children are given the opportunity to play so that they can experience emotions related to caring and empathy.
2. Play-based learning helps with literacy skills
Play which involves rhyme or music can help the development of literacy skills. For example, when children recite rhymes or sing songs, they are beginning to lay the basics linked to literacy and reading. Repetition, rhythm and rhyme also help young children to enhance their skills related to differentiating sounds as well as memory.
3. Play-based learning sparks creativity and imagination
Research has highlighted that play-based learning helps to spark creativity and imagination. when a child uses their imagination, they are able to find an answer to problems that they may experience.
4. Play-based learning encourages language skills
When children play from an early age their language skills are promoted. During these early years, a child’s vocabulary will develop when they play with other children of their age and interact with the adults around them. In preschool settings and at home, adults can help to support a child’s language development through play by asking children questions, using new words and promoting conversation. The beauty of play is that all of this can happen in a natural way and learning is increased in a fun way, as well as in a way that interests a child.
What we do need to remember is that play needs to be self-led in order for children to enjoy it. It is recognized that play-based learning is crucial when it comes to teaching in the early years and it is essential for enhancing those necessary life skills that children will require as they develop.