If you are the parent of a young child, it is likely that you have heard the phrase ‘play-based learning’ a lot. This has been gaining popularity among teachers and parents alike as a highly effective method of teaching valuable skills to our little ones, so it will likely be here to stay. 

According to the Early Years Learning Framework, play-based learning is “a context for learning through which children organise and make sense of their social worlds, as they engage actively with people, objects and representations.” 

Essentially, it allows kids to be kids, with learning structured in a way that would appeal to their curiosity while also interacting with others. Many are recognising its importance in ensuring holistic development for children. In this article, our team at Craftercise will explore more about play-based learning and how it will benefit your children. 

WHY IS PLAY-BASED LEARNING IMPORTANT? 

Play-based learning allows children to build a sense of community and camaraderie at a young age because it encourages both playing with others and on their own. Instead of learning alone all the time, your child will be discovering and solving problems with the help of others. For them to maximise play-based learning benefits, however, you need to create an environment where it is encouraged. Make sure to take into account these important elements: 

  • Fun: Your child must be having fun to encourage learning, so you shouldn't force them into an activity.
  • Self-direction: There’s no ‘wrong’ way to play! Although you can offer ideas and accompany your child during the process, they ultimately decide how they play.
  • Process-oriented: It’s about the journey, not the destination. The goal isn’t to win or to play it right. It’s all about triggering their curiosity and allowing them to explore.
  • Unstructured exploration: Your child should be able to explore for themselves and select items that they want to interact with. Providing a variety of educational toys is a great way to let children become engaged in an activity on their own. 

PLAY-BASED LEARNING BENEFITS TO A YOUNG, DEVELOPING MIND 

By creating an environment that will encourage play-based learning, your child will receive the following benefits: 

1. Improved motor skills 

Playing will help your child nurture both their gross and fine motor skills. These can be developed through craft kits that let them use their imagination to create wonderous new things on their own. Other toys like Geoboards and GeoFun also fulfil the same purpose of refining their fine motor skills while also introducing them to various shapes. 

2. Developed creativity and imagination 

You may be asking, “Why do we need to focus on these if children are naturally curious anyway?” As parents, we must remember that creativity and imagination are skills that need to be developed, not just things that happen because they’re kids. These traits are important even in adulthood in navigating unfamiliar situations and adapting to an ever-changing world. And it starts with training these skills from childhood when many things stimulate their imagination. 

For example, sensory play toys like the Miniland Sand Roller can be used to create shapes or spell out their names. You may even suggest for them to use this specific toy to create a map from school to home! 

Anything can spark the imagination, even everyday objects around the house such as a wooden spoon or a blanket. These can all be used to play, pretend and creatively solve imagined problems. The more toys and items they’re exposed to, the more opportunity there will be to engage their imagination. 

3. Boosted confidence towards learning 

Every new challenge in life can be considered a learning opportunity. So, if you’re still not convinced as to why play-based learning is important, think of the confidence boost it gives your child. Having the confidence to try unfamiliar things and take risks is very important, no matter our age. Therefore, this trait is crucial to a healthy and well-adjusted life. 

Building this from childhood is essential, as it happens before children take on more challenging tasks in school, in social situations, or at home. With stronger confidence, ingenuity and resourcefulness, they'll also have the independence to try things without waiting for their parents to instruct them to do so. 

Play-based learning also frees children from a rigorous schedule to learn things. They wouldn’t feel pressure to keep up, allowing them to develop a positive attitude on learning – something else to benefit them in years to come. 

4. Improved social and emotional skills 

Learning isn’t something that your child has to do on their own. In fact, having their playmates as part of the learning experience can be extremely influential in their development. Through their interaction with their peers, they would be able to communicate thoughts more effectively, cooperate to accomplish a common goal, and even resolve conflicts; they’re learning how to act as part of a group and not just as an individual. 

At the same time, play-based learning also hones emotional skills. Apart from learning how to identify their emotions and regulating them, they're also learning how to empathise with their friends. And because this also doesn't follow structure, it helps them to destress and recharge while still developing important traits. 

5. Improved literacy and language use 

During these formative years, a child’s vocabulary greatly expands. Through their peers, play-based learning will enable children to interact with their peers and encourage conversations and language learning to occur naturally. They can improve their language and communication skills even when playing alone. When your child speaks to themselves and creates stories while playing, this is what happens. 

As a parent or guardian, you can also support the development of these skills by asking questions and introducing new words. The important thing is to engage them in communication. 

Get Started with More Play-Based Learning Today 

If you are looking for the perfect way to get started with play-based learning for your children, review the extensive selection of toys and equipment available at Craftercise.

March 03, 2022 — Aleisha Dakin