Learning through play is nature’s most powerful tool in any child’s learning and development. When children play, it’s not simply about having fun; the process of playing is a crucial conduit through which children learn new skills, about the world around them, and themselves.
Play: the Most Natural Way to Learn & Develop
The positive difference between discovering things through play and being told such things is truly profound. Learning through play and discovery comes totally naturally — and effortlessly to children. Contrast that with learning from a textbook or lecture and you can straight away see why the play method is going to be most effective, as well as being more fun. Indeed, perhaps it is the most effective approach because play is a fun — and a more natural — way to learn.
Today, we’ll take a closer look at the role of play in early childhood and learn more about the benefits when children learn through play.
What are Some of the Benefits of Learning Through Play?
Through play, children make sense of their surroundings, learn about activities, objects and natural things and get to understand the significance of their stimulated senses. Active play also directly contributes to positive changes in their bodies, including the honing of balance and coordination as well as in the building of strength and fitness. And, through play, they get to better understand other children and adults, both individually and as a whole. Through all of this, they also get to clarify their place in the world and, of course, facilitate the learning of countless new skills.
Enhanced Cognitive Skills
Cognitive function is one area profoundly affected when children play. Play takes so many forms that, through its many facets, children are constantly learning. Play represents a real workout for the brain as children learn to problem-solve, build, create, interact, understand things around them, and much more. Through such activities, their brain synapses multiply continuously, allowing them to fine-tune a multitude of cognitive skills that are built on constantly.
Enhanced Social & Communication Skills
Play can also naturally be a multi-person enterprise. As such, group play gives children the perfect opportunity to learn from each other, improve social skills, enhance language skills, and build relationships. Such skills will allow them to better communicate, cooperate, share, take turns, negotiate, resolve conflicts and fit in. The making of friends is one natural result of this. That’s important.
Improved Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is another key skill that’s enhanced through childhood play. Play can involve many facets that allow children to see things from another perspective. Role-play is a classic example. Through such endeavours, children will develop key traits like empathy, perception and the understanding of peers. They’ll also be better equipped to manage their own emotions and handle those of others.
Play is also a perfect tool through which to be creative. Indeed, creativity is a natural part of play, coming instinctively to children as they create games, make-believe situations, role-play, problem-solve and invent. Such creativity is also a core part of the fun of playing, making games more exciting and memorable in the process.
Making Sense of the Senses
Babies also learn through play and one of the key ways they do so is through the senses. In infancy, sensory play is one of the very foundations of every child’s early learning and development. It helps them make sense of everything around them, enables them to fine-tune motor skills, and strengthens muscles as they play and explore objects or materials nearby.
Insights Into Maths & Science
Playing in the early years is also going to involve concepts like counting, addition, subtraction and basic science from time to time. Whether building towers with wooden blocks, experimenting at bath time, or creating a new den, mathematics and science are at the heart of so many childhood games and pastimes. Again, play is a natural way for children to learn and discover.
Development of Risk-Assessment Skills
When children play, they will naturally learn to assess risk, learn from mistakes, and grow more resilient in the process. A study by the University of Cambridge backs up the importance of facilitating such learning.
“…meeting challenges and learning how to manage risk is one of the main elements of play [that] should be supported and encouraged.” (University of Cambridge, 2012)∞
One should not overlook one of the most simple yet fundamental benefits of learning through play; play is enormous fun for children and therefore it will naturally contribute to their happiness and well-being. Indeed levels of cortisol, which is a hormone that’s released when humans are under stress, are shown to reduce simply through the act of playing.
Nurturing a Love of Learning
Play really is a magical tool because, quite simply, it makes learning fun. Because of that, children will naturally enjoy learning. That’s going to stand them in great stead as they progress from nursery and preschool to school, further education potentially and into adulthood. As such, this love for learning will benefit them personally and professionally once they’re older.
Learning Through Play at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery
Early years practitioners at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery fully understand the transformative benefits of learning through play. That’s why we nurture such an approach whenever possible. Play at the nursery will be a mixture of structured and unstructured (‘free’) play, allowing focus to be put on both specific areas of learning, where appropriate, and natural discovery. Learning goals will be baked into the learning and development programme that’s tailored to suit each individual child. Equipment, toys, resources and the design of the various spaces around the nursery/preschool are also designed to safely optimise each child’s learning through various kinds of play. Our practitioners will also carefully observe children’s progress and help them get the most from their experiences and activities throughout the day. Such continuous assessment and tailored support will bring out the very best in every child in a holistic way. This 360-degree facilitation will allow children to simply thrive, in readiness for school at the age of 5.
If you would like to explore the possibility of your child attending a ‘Good Provider’ of childcare and early years education like Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, please get in touch using an option below. We support free ‘childcare hours’ through the various Government-funded childcare schemes to make childcare more affordable for eligible children.
We are a high-quality nursery/preschool in Edgbaston, close to Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick.