Written by Olivia Arrow

Play based learning is a teaching approach that incorporates elements of play into the learning process. It is commonly used in the early years of schooling, particularly in Stage 1, which includes Kindergarten and years 1 and 2 of primary school. This approach has gained popularity in recent years, as educators and parents have recognised its many benefits for young learners.

In play based learning, children are encouraged to explore, experiment, and create in a fun and engaging environment. Rather than traditional teacher-led instruction, play based learning focuses on child-initiated activities and hands-on experiences. This approach allows children to develop a variety of skills, both cognitive and social, in a more natural and enjoyable way.

The benefits of play based learning in Stage 1 of school are numerous and far-reaching. In this article, we will explore some of the key advantages of this approach and why it is considered an effective method of education for young children.

Develops Social and Emotional Skills

One of the most significant benefits of play based learning in Stage 1 is its ability to develop social and emotional skills in young children. Through play, children learn how to interact with others, negotiate, take turns, and develop empathy. They also learn how to manage their emotions and express themselves effectively.

In a play based learning environment, children have the opportunity to engage with their peers and collaborate on tasks. This helps them develop important social skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. They also learn to regulate their emotions as they navigate different play scenarios and interact with different personalities.

These social and emotional skills are not only essential for success in the classroom but also in life. They help children build positive relationships, resolve conflicts, and develop a strong sense of self-esteem.

Encourages Creativity and Imagination

Play based learning provides a rich and stimulating environment for children to express their creativity and imagination. Through different play activities, children can explore their interests, ideas, and thoughts in a safe and supportive setting.

In Stage 1, children are at a critical stage of their development, where they are just beginning to understand the world around them. Play based learning allows them to make sense of this world and express their thoughts and ideas in a way that is meaningful to them.

Whether it’s building a fort with blocks or creating a story with puppets, play-based activities provide endless opportunities for children to use their imagination and be creative. This fosters a love for learning and encourages children to think outside the box, which is a valuable skill to have in any aspect of life.

Develops Cognitive Skills

Play based learning also has a significant impact on a child’s cognitive development. Through play, children are constantly learning and making connections between different concepts. They develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and decision-making skills.

In a play-based environment, children are exposed to a variety of tasks and challenges that require them to use their minds actively. For example, building a structure with blocks requires children to think logically and strategically, while playing a board game involves following rules and making decisions based on the situation.

These cognitive skills are essential for academic success as well. By developing these skills early on, children are better equipped to handle more complex tasks as they progress through their schooling.

Makes Learning Fun and Engaging

One of the most significant benefits of play based learning in Stage 1 is that it makes learning fun and engaging for children. Unlike traditional methods of teaching, where children are expected to sit still and listen to the teacher, play-based learning allows children to be active participants in their own learning.

When children are having fun, they are more motivated to learn and are more likely to retain the information they have learned. Play based learning also provides a more hands-on and multi-sensory approach to learning, which caters to different learning styles and makes learning more accessible for all children.

Builds Confidence and Independence

In a play-based learning environment, children are encouraged to take control of their learning and make their own decisions. This helps them develop a sense of independence and self-confidence. When children feel empowered and in control of their learning, they are more likely to take risks, try new things, and persist in the face of challenges.

Furthermore, as children engage in different play activities, they develop new skills, which boosts their confidence and self-esteem. This confidence and independence carry over into other areas of their lives, making them more resilient and better equipped to handle challenges in the future.

Supports Inclusivity and Diversity

Play based learning promotes inclusivity and diversity in the classroom. In a play-based environment, children are encouraged to express themselves and their unique backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures. This helps create a more inclusive and understanding community of learners.

Additionally, play-based learning allows for different levels of ability, as children can engage in activities at their own pace. This approach recognises that every child is unique and has different strengths and challenges. By catering to these individual differences, play-based learning has numerous benefits for children in stage 1 of school. It encourages active learning, fosters creativity and imagination, develops social and physical skills, makes learning fun and engaging, and is tailored to individual needs. It also sets a strong foundation for future learning and helps to develop a love for learning in children.