What’s So Good About Play-Based Learning at School?

You may have heard the term play-based learning at school recently. It’s not a new thing though, as play has been what children have used to help them learn for centuries! What is new though, is that play-based learning is now being encouraged by schools as a part of their everyday curriculum. We take a look at the reasons why schools are deliberately changing the way they teach and including play-based learning within the curriculum.

Why Are Schools So Keen on Play-Based Learning Nowadays?

Over the years, the way schools are run and how teachers teach has changed and will continue to do so. New research brings new findings and understandings about what works best for our kids. One of these is play-based learning and has recently been replacing the more formal approach to schooling seen in the past few years.

Now I’m pretty sure that play-based learning at school happened when I was young. All of the dress-ups, blocks and nature tables formed a large part of my childhood. I’m guessing that these were present because teachers knew that kids loved playing with them – and learning! It just wasn’t labelled with any specific name.

Nowadays though, we live in a culture where every move we make must have a reason, especially within the education sector. Play-based learning at school is a pedagogical approach in which it is believed that play is the best way for kids to learn because it:

  • Provides developmentally appropriate learning experiences
  • Is flexible and responsive to student needs
  • Teacher guided, not teacher led
  • Improves social and emotional development skills
  • Encourages initiative and builds resistance
  • Balances learning through play and deliberate acts of teaching

Parents are of course very interested to find out whether playing at school will help their child and what it will look like.

What does Play-Based Learning at School Look Like?

Have schools thrown out all of the pens and paper and replaced them with blocks and dolls? Nope. A school which has implemented learning through play still teaches everything required by the curriculum. Reading, writing, maths, spelling, PE, science and technology remain the key subjects; it is the way they are taught to the kids that has changed.

For instance, a unit focused on insects will still see kids listening to stories about bumblebees, drawing butterflies and looking at bug photos. But it will also contain activities which the teacher has set up in advance for children to take the lead with. A construction area with boxes and paper can lead to some serious bug building fun. Or plastic bugs in the maths section lead to playing happy families or a stop-motion video being made. This is because, with play-based learning at school, teachers work hard to ensure that the appropriate materials are provided and lots of time is given for play experiences!

Is play-based learning something that happens at your child’s school? What is your opinion (and your child’s) of it? We’d love to know, so drop us a comment below!

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