Learning through play is a term used in education to describe how a child can learn to make sense of the world around them while playing. Through play children can develop social and cognitive skills, mature emotionally, and gain the self-confidence needed to engage in new experiences and environments. Play is recognized by the United Nations as a specific right for all children, and at MEF children have plenty of opportunities to explore and play.
Play also contributes to brain development. Evidence from Neuroscience shows that the early years of a child’s development (basically, from birth to age six) set the basis for learning, behaviour and health throughout life. The child’s neural pathways are influenced in their development through the exploration, thinking, problem-solving and language expression which occur during play time, so play paves the way for children’s future learning.
Learning occurs when children play with blocks or play dough, paint a picture or play make-believe and role-play. During play, children try new things, solve problems, invent, create, test ideas and explore. Children need unstructured, creative playtime, as well as they need structured Literacy and Numeracy curriculum time. There is, anyway, a strong link between play and learning for young children, especially in the areas of problem solving, language acquisition, literacy, numeracy and social, physical and emotional skills. Through make-believe games, children can be anyone they wish and go anywhere they want. When they engage in role-plays, they learn how to cope with feelings, how to bring the world around them into a small, manageable size, and how to become socially adept as they share, take turns and cooperate with each other. When children play, they are learning new words, how to problem solve, and how to be flexible.
So, my recommendation for this weekend is play, play and more play. Enjoy it!