Learning Through Play: A Productive Playing Environment
Play is an essential element in the development of children as it enriches their overall growth and promotes learning. Research has shown that there is a strong link between play and literacy. There is also credible evidence to suggest that a higher number of opportunities for play will have a positive impact on children’s literacy levels. Learning through play works.
Each step made in the learning process encourages the next. Children are intuitive and slowly gain confidence in themselves. Medical imaging has verified that optimal learning occurs when children learn through alternation of knowledge acquisition and repeated tests. Recent brain scans have shown that if children study for a period of 15 minutes per day, they will have successfully memorised the information in only eight weeks. Another discovery suggested that studying a small amount of material over a longer period of time is more effective than studying a large amount of material in a shorter period.
Group games encourage the reasoning necessary to tackle literacy activities at an early age. Through play, children create scenarios, combining them with actions, objects and speech. This leads to the creation of narrative dialogue, building a vocabulary adaptable to a variety of roles and context. Children may find themselves playing in a new environment, like a small kitchen or garage, and need to express ideas unique to the setting; puppets, dolls and similar products provide opportunities to develop vocabulary and encourage learning.
Time tracking routines reassure children on the autistic spectrum.
Learning through play should still be considerate of the child’s needs. When playing games with children with autism, a visual representation of time can reduce uncertainty induced stress. “Aids like the Alarmed Timer are reassuring tools for autistic children over the age of 3.” Says Leni Cassagnettes, Special Assistance Teacher and Blogger, ‘Maitresseuh‘. “By materialising time, it allows them to anticipate stressful events such as changes in activities or games.”
Play aids for children who struggle with dyscalculia
When working with students with dyscalculia, or those who simply struggle with mathematics, it can be beneficial to use products inspired by the Montessori school of teaching. Objects like colourful beads, number blocks and wooden cubes create a multi-sensory environment (visual, tactile, kinaesthetic) and allow children to gain an understanding of mathematics gradually. This approach works for children in schools all the way up to year 6.
When working to improve a child’s spatial awareness and motor skills development, playing games that involve image cards can be both beneficial and fun. “One example of a motor skills game would be to have children imitate the pictures on cards.” says Psychomotricity Practitioner, Mélanie Schneerson. “This could be done with or without instructions, depending on the required level of difficulty. Children may also enjoy mimicking the images using their toys.”
Promoting Learning Through Play
Learning through play is an essential part of learning. Play is the foundation of the social, physical and emotional skills needed to succeed not only in school, but in life. It paves the way for their educational journey. For example, the construction of a tower with cubes helps children learn logic, mathematical reasoning and cognitive problem solving. Play also promotes creative thinking and intellectual flexibility. Games promote communication and highlight language and social skills to children. The four known pillars of effective learning are attention, active engagement, feedback and consolidation. In other words, children are actors in their own learning process.