One of the practices most commonly used in the early childhood sector is ‘learning through play’.
Play-based learning is described in the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) as “a context for learning through which children organise and make sense of their social worlds, as they actively engage with people, objects and representations”.
While research on brain development is in its infancy, it is believed that play shapes the structural design of the brain.
We know that secure attachments and stimulation are significant aspects of brain development; play provides active exploration that assists in building and strengthening brain pathways.
Play creates a brain that has increased flexibility and improved potential for learning later in life.
Young children’s play allows them to:
- Take risks
- Create meaning
The intellectual and cognitive benefits of playing have been well documented.
Children who engage in quality play experiences are more likely to have well-developed memory skills, language development, and are able to regulate their behaviour, leading to enhanced school adjustment and academic learning.
While there is no one definition of play, there are a number of agreed characteristics that describe play.
Play can be described as:
- pleasurable-play is an enjoyable and pleasurable activity. Play sometimes includes frustrations, challenges and fears; however enjoyment is a key feature
- symbolic-play is often pretend, it has a ‘what if?’ quality. The play has meaning to the player that is often not evident to the educator
- active-play requires action, either physical, verbal or mental engagement with materials, people, ideas or the environment
- voluntary-play is freely chosen. However, players can also be invited or prompted to play
- process oriented-play is a means unto itself and players may not have an end or goal in sight
- self motivating-play is considered its own reward to the player
Research and evidence all point to the role of play in children’s development and learning across cultures.
Our education programs at Charley's Place embrace play based learning across all age groups to promote a healthier, more engaged learning environment.
To learn more about our programs or the importance of play base learning, have a look at our Education Program.