Play is one of the best and most natural ways for children to learn. It is how they get to explore and make sense of the world, have fun, and express their curiosity.
At Hillside Cottage, we believe that play-based learning is the key to early learning and is, therefore, the foundation on which our learning curriculum is based on. While it may look like fun and play, one thing most parents do not realise is that there is a lot of rich and quite deep learning going on.
Understanding what play-based learning is all about can help you, as a parent, better engage with your child’s educators and teachers while allowing you to keep track of your child’s development. Doing so will also educate you on ways you can empower your child or children to extend their learning even when playing at home.
What’s Play-Based Learning?
Though a simple concept, many people tend to have a negative attitude towards this approach to learning since most of us are used to seeing learning taking place in more formal settings.
Play-based learning focuses on the processes that a child embarks on, instead of trying to achieve a specific outcome. It is a learning approach that’s led by the toddler and is supported by educators and teachers who carefully plan play experiences that will open up more learning opportunities, or identifying ‘teachable moments’ that can be capitalised on during play.
Play motivates children to learn and develops in them a positive desire for learning. As it focuses on building their natural desire to learn, play-based learning is a great way to motivate young children to do more on their own.
Play is Important For Babies
Infants learn through observation and experience and rely on each of their senses to discover things and explore their environment. That is why we’ve ensured that all of our nurseries are rich in textures and colours, sounds and sights.
Apart from developing their senses, they still need to develop their balance and be more aware of their bodies. It is for this reason that our caregivers spend a considerable amount of time with them on the ground �” cruising, climbing, crawling, and rolling �” to help them build their sensory systems and move independently.
Play offers babies a chance to discover, problem solve, explore, and experiment. Just like any other learner, at any age, as long as there’s something intriguing them or if there’s anything that needs a solution, they’ll strive to find an answer to it.
Play and Learning Is Natural For Toddlers
A toddler’s curiosity starts to ramp up once they reach their toddler years. There’s nothing that works best like capitalising on this growing interests through play-based learning.
Children in this age bracket use play-based learning to nurture the development of several critical foundational skills that they will continue building once they enter preschool or kindergarten and prepare for primary school.
3 to 5-Year-Olds And Play
The first 5-years of a child are important as this is the period when they are establishing their connections and neural pathways. Through active exploration and play, a child’s brain is shaped, while his or her intersocial skills, such as relationship building, emotional regulation, resilience, communication, problem-solving, and creativity develop.
All these are critical skills needed not only for school but also for adult life. As such, play-based learning is one of the best ways to nurture 3-5-year-olds, to prepare them for the future ahead of them.