Last week there were lots of wows, wonders, and excitements in the PreK1 classrooms. PreK1 students welcomed their parents for Learning Comes Alive into their classrooms. During their daily morning learning exploration time, parents were able to participate in their children’s play-based learning engagements and were delighted to experience children’s learning and celebrate their learning growth. PreK1 students were excited and eager to showcase many learning skills to their parents: from their favorite classroom storybooks, wonderful art activities, intriguing constructing skills, playful role-plays to creative crafts. Play-based learning is a component of early childhood education based on child-led and open-ended play. If you’re picturing preschoolers finger painting or ‘playing house’, you’re spot on.
Play itself is a voluntary, enjoyable activity with no purpose or end goal. Learning engagements like these lay the foundation for a child to become a curious and excited thinker later in life. Play-based learning helps children develop social skills, motivation to learn, and even language and numeracy skills. Taking initiative, focused attention, and curiosity about the world are all a part of play. Play-based learning can include (but not exclusive to) the following elements:
Learner-initiated: A child voluntary chooses to play, how they’ll play, and for how long. An adult may initiate play insofar as he or she invites or suggests play but the child determines the rest.
Enjoyable: Play is enjoyable for the child. This emotional aspect is important. There may be some frustrations or disagreements during play but overall it’s pleasurable.
Self-directed: A child has ample time to explore and discover during play. They’re directed by their own interests, not by any prescribed rules or plans.
Process-oriented: There is no end or learning goal. Instead, it’s the process of play that’s important.
Imaginative: Play often involves imagination, ‘make believe’, or ‘playing pretend’.
Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein