What is the value of play-based learning?
- Posted on
- By Josephine Walbank
- Posted in 1000 hours outside, children unpluged, children's outdoor furniture, creativity, education, Garden, outdoor play, outdoor play area, play-based learning
There are many play-based learning philosophies out there. This blog highlights the importance of using creative and playful activities, which deter the conventional academic-oriented approach to children’s education.
All too often, we make the mistake of thinking that the only way that people can learn is through academia.
That goes from national school systems through to parents at home.
But, is there scope for ‘purposeful play’?
The short answer is YES. Playtime brings far more benefits to a child than simply being fun. It is a fantastic, highly beneficial form of education.
Play-based learning provides children with a range of unique benefits that cannot be accessed via traditional, academic means. By encouraging your child to enjoy imaginative and creative play, you can help them to learn new abilities, develop their brains, improve their social skills and help them to grow into more well-rounded, capable adults.
Just because it isn’t maths, don’t assume that it isn’t learning.
In this blog post, we wanted to spotlight the value of ‘purposeful play’ as a form of learning.
We’ll be listing the best forms of play to encourage learning, discussing the developmental benefits of play, and giving our top tips to help you bring purposeful play into your home routine.
In short, read on to discover the purpose of play.
Examples of purposeful play
As you can imagine, the concept of purposeful play encompasses a wide range of different activities, each one with specific benefits.
You can make play more educational and beneficial by introducing the following elements (to name a few):
- Using building blocks - with a range of different colours, sizes and materials.
- Use toys that promote a high level of imagination (such as Lego or PlayDoh).
- Encourage your child to try new crafts like painting, drawing, moulding or sewing.
- Change their scenery - get out and about, visiting new places.
- Growing veg - growing your own vegetables helps your child learn about both the food that they eat and how it is grown.
- Bird watching - with this timeless hobby, you’ll never be short of new things to learn.
- Group play - even just simply playing as a group is a great way to help your child improve their social and interpersonal skills.
- Independent play - equally, independent play offers specific benefits.
- Enjoy performance play, like reading or acting.
- Use sensory materials like water or sand.
- Familiarise them with a variety of rich language - you can even do this as part of a silly game!
- Food - cooking and food prep is filled with lessons to learn.
- Outdoor play - natural play has a profound impact on the development of children.
You can vary up these options and switch between them regularly. We’d encourage you to do so! Your child will delight in the variety and gain a greater range of developmental benefits. Win-win.
Benefits of purposeful play
There are many play-based child care philosophies out there. This highlights the importance of using creative and playful activities, which deter the conventional academic-oriented approach to children’s education.
Through a combination of play and classroom lessons, they believe children can develop in the most rewarding way.
As well as the intellectual, the play also improves physical, social and emotional development.
The thought behind purposeful play is that by building creativity, independence, resourcefulness, adaptability, intuition and confidence, children will grow with the skills required to thrive in a dynamic world, overcoming the hurdles that come their way.
Two particular schools of thought which advocate this approach are the Waldorf School and the philosophy of holistic play.
Waldorf Schools are built upon the philosophies and methods of Rudolf Steiner. The ultimate aim of these schools is to help children develop into independent, free-thinking individuals. They do this by prioritising imaginative, creative, social and problem-solving activities, the bulk of which involve different forms of play-based learning.
Similarly, holistic play is a form of teaching where the wellbeing of the child is prioritised (wellbeing including physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing). This philosophy is most commonly applied to young children as a more enjoyable and effective way of helping them to learn more about our world.
During play, children are viewed as individuals. They can approach the world independently and are encouraged to perceive things in their unique way. By placing such a value on developing individuality, children can think more for themselves, approach situations with more consideration, take joy in gaining knowledge and think and speak for themselves.
Our top tips for introducing purposeful play
In a home setting, the way your child plays will naturally be different to the activities they enjoy at school. But that’s not to say they can’t still be purposeful!
Our top tips for keeping your child’s play as beneficial as possible are:
Come up with inspiring and imaginative crafts
Arts and crafts are an excellent way to help a child to learn about the world around them.
Hands-on play not only improves their motor skills but also keeps their brain working, introduces them to problem-solving, develops their imagination and encourages their individuality to shine through.
On our blog, we’ve written up a list of our favourite eco-conscious kids garden crafts - so you’ll never be short of inspiration.
Engage their curiosity
Keep your child stimulated and engaged. Play-based learning is far more likely to be effective if your child is excited about the activity.
Have a read of our 5 top tips for promoting curious and stimulating play to get inspired.
Put the devices away
Technology is great, but we all tend to depend on it too much in this day and age.
Before starting your play session, make a conscious effort to put the phones, laptops, TVs and other screens away. That way, your child is far more likely to be engaged in the activity you’ve planned.
Take the family out on adventures
There’s a whole world out there to explore!
Your child will delight in seeing new places. Plus, this new environment contains countless new things for a child to discover.
We may be biased, but forests are the perfect place to take your child on a fun-filled adventure. Have a read of our guide to create your own nature trail on your next trip into the forest.
Make the most out of your garden
Your garden is an ideal place for play-based learning. The great outdoors is filled with opportunities to discover, learn and imagine.
In fact, in our 20 ways to create a child’s discovery garden blog, we listed loads of different ideas to help your child relish spending quality time outside.
Although it might sound complicated, purposeful play is, at its heart, all about helping a child to discover the social, physical and natural world around them. Even if we may not be consciously doing so, every day, we engage our children in beneficial play-based learning.
The most effective forms of purposeful play are often the simplest. This is where the great outdoors really comes into its own.
When it comes to play-based learning, nature is the gift that keeps on giving. Playing outside has countless benefits for our children, and so we wanted to create a product that would encourage this as much as possible.
That’s why our children’s outdoor furniture is designed to give children their very own outdoor space. There, they can fully unleash their creativity and learn as much as possible about how every bit of nature works together. For us, this is play-based learning at its very best.
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