A common discussion when parents meet is, “How we wish, we had these kinds of games and activities to help us learn concepts when we were young!”
Today, there are so many new methods to teach children Maths or English that we couldn’t have thought of. This is all for a reason, and that is – we learn easily when we have fun. There are various benefits of play-based learning, which help in enhancing the overall development of a child- mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and physical.
Just as no one size fits all, not every child learns different things the same way. It’s a human tendency to learn and absorb things differently. The play-based learning theory allows just this, as it involves different processes and different techniques to help understand one particular topic. Play acts as a catalyst for learning, socialising, and emotional growth.
Our senses get activated much faster, and the retention of the topic is higher when we learn through play. This is even more applicable for the younger minds. For example, as simple as stacking blocks can help them develop creative & cognitive skills. Don’t forget to ask them questions like- How tall the blocks can stand? How many shapes they can form using the same set of blocks? How about forming complex structures? Or can they put together the parts of a complex play machine?
Traditional learning v/s learning through play
Learning via textual books only focuses on enhancing one’s theoretical skills. It does not provide a clear picture of how to use the concept in a real-life scenario. However, learning through play lets a kid work on the practical aspect of the learning together with developing his reasoning, creative and cognitive skills.
Benefits of play-based learning
Play-based learning has benefits that convert knowledge into intelligence, instantly, because our brain is more stimulated when we learn while having fun. In schools, play-based learning allows the reinforcement of ideas for better understanding.
1. Learning through play gives children more clarity on the concept, thereby making them more curious and attracted to learning new things. This allows them to build problem-solving skills from a very early age and builds confidence and the ability to think on their own.
2. Play-based learning is a powerful tool to fix relationships and heal emotional wounds, which are otherwise difficult to ever become aware of. Today, many play-based therapies are used to help children overcome stress and depression. It keeps the mind at ease, as children learn things easily, so their brain space is less occupied with pressure and stress. So they are happier too. Play is a simple yet complex way of learning because there is more to it than what meets the eye. It is also a way of reducing screen time and allowing some physical movement, thereby leading to a healthier lifestyle.
3. Games like Chess and puzzles enhance kids’ brain function and are a powerful way of teaching children concepts that cannot be taught through textbooks. It allows the children to go beyond what’s being taught, and explore on their own. It gives them the environment to learn through self-discovery. Here the importance shifts from what to learn to how to learn new concepts, thereby driving the child intellectually. Children love challenges, and while playing when they face challenges, they easily overcome them and this allows them to boost their confidence.
There are multiple day-to-day examples of learning through play. For instance, while playing monopoly, you will observe how the different family members react to a particular scenario. Some might strike a quick bargain, while some might sulk. Some complain that we did not get this property so we lost, showing us that it’s easy for them to blame the outer situation, instead of taking matters into their own hands. It allows parents to map their kids’ reactions to different scenarios throughout the game. It is also an effective tool to enhance creativity, as they have to think of different ways to strike a deal throughout the game and make the next move more appealing than the previous one.
4. Through play, children can be taught how to react differently to different situations, so they are in a more powerful position. It allows them to create emotional and social bonds too. It teaches children to learn to follow rules, yet create new ones, by remaining within boundaries. Simultaneously, they can be taught to manage funds, manage their development, create strategies, build social bonds, and learn how to handle a win or loss gracefully. It builds problem-solving skills and teaches how to communicate effectively and resolve conflicts as well.
5. Charades is another excellent example of play-based learning, where the children not only gets a chance to improve their vocabulary but also to build their grammar strength The game lets them understand the other person’s point of view, adapt to new situations, and learn to effectively respond in different situations. They will also observe and analyse how others behave in certain situations and add that learning to theirs. The learning can be said to be successful as it would trigger inquisitive and induce knowledge, thereby supporting the developmental goals of the activity.
6. Play-based learning examples also include cooking, pretend play, helping out at home, and taking interest in the day-to-day scenarios happening in our environment. While we don’t consider these situations to be ones of learning, children learn the most through their home environment. If you notice, children are inclined towards these activities naturally, but as parents, you create restrictions and boundaries for them, by saying “you are too small for this or let mama do it for you, or this is not your job”.
Children so beautifully learn from everything around them and make everything around them playful. Let the world be a game for them, let them enjoy it and yet keep learning from it. If you make it serious, they will get bored and lose their inner inquisitiveness, without which any kind of practical teaching is also useless.
The eventual purpose of learning is to equip children, and this style of learning will allow parents and teachers to do this while understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each child. This will aid to support the development of each individual learning and help them overcome the challenges. The children will learn a lot from their peers, and the play-based learning environment will help them acquire life skills that will aid them to conquer their fears and lead a happier and more confident life.
The views expressed are that of the expert alone.
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