What I Learn When I Play: 4 Benefits of Play-Based Learning
For some, the words “play” and “learning” are on opposite ends of the education spectrum. Playing brings to mind games, exercise, that special peal of laughter you might hear walking past a school at recess. Learning, on the other hand, might recall students with heads down in quiet classrooms. For early childhood educators, these two concepts are inextricably linked. Because play is such a crucial part of how children grow and develop, it’s important to find opportunities to integrate play into learning.
What Does Play-Based Learning Mean?
Put simply, play-based learning is what happens when educators design an environment where play is an integral part of learning and discovery. In this setting, educators provide opportunities for learners to explore through open-ended play. This is where the magic of learning and play combine to provide a multitude of benefits for developing young children.
The Benefits of Play-Based Learning
Blossoms Creativity and Imagination. When children are given the freedom to explore, they use their creativity and imagination. Play-based learning might ask students to create their favorite animal from scratch using Play-Doh, paint, or construction paper. In doing this, children will learn about colors, different textures and materials, and how to create things.
Encourages Social-Emotional Development. Play-based learning encourages interaction with others, which helps them develop relationships and learn about social norms. Additionally, children have the opportunity to learn about feelings as they explore new lessons. They learn what makes them happy, what makes them sad, and what to do when feelings arise.
Keeps Children Active. Play-based learning gives children opportunities to work on fine and gross motor skills through movement. Learners can throw and catch balls, hop on one foot, and practice their balancing, all while having fun!
Fosters Cognitive Growth. This method of learning encourages children to explore and learn about the world about them. Through these learning experiences, students will learn how to solve problems, how to think critically, and how to use creativity.
In childcare centers, play-based learning is an essential part of how we teach. At home, keep the learning and playing going! Painting, creating things with Play-Doh, and getting creative with sensory bins are all great ways to keep your child learning, growing, and having fun.