There is an old saying that goes ‘Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime’. This is something of a mantra for early education teachers as they are the ones responsible for building the strong foundation for learning that the children can then build upon as they rise through the school grades. They don’t want to simply give the children the answers, but want them to learn how to get the answers for themselves and a great way to attain that is through play based learning.
Play based learning is allowing children to think creatively, explore, investigate and inquire about the world around them by playing. It does not mean handing them a smartphone or tablet and then walking away, but rather giving them the materials that they can manipulate, build, create and wonder about at their own pace in their own time.
Kids are naturally curious and will ask many, many questions throughout the day. Allowing them to figure out how things work on their own or with friends allows them to understand things better while giving them a sense of accomplishment.
Play develops a foundation for intellectual, physical, emotional, and social skills, all skills that are needed for success throughout a lifetime. And the best thing about play based learning? Kids love to play and they don’t see it as learning anything, but simply having fun. Learning and doing for children are linked, they don’t see any differences between academic learning and playing, that is, they don’t understand that they are learning when they are doing but they are. Play based learning allows the children to actively problem solve, it helps them with math and literacy skills and it helps them develop social skills like problem solving with others, sharing opinions with others and developing ideas about the world around them.
It is no wonder that many preschool and kindergarten programs around the world have adopted this model of teaching. It allows children to think creatively in terms of what they want to do and how they will reach their goal. Kids coming out of the program have a lot of necessary skills that will serve them well as they join the elementary and secondary grades and continue their learning. The type of foundation they get early on goes a long way to help their future learning.