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What Is Play Based Learning?

Happy Kid — Early Learning in Highfields, QLD
For many parents they hear the words “play based learning” and they become a little concerned that there is no structure to the learning environment. Skilled educators thrive in a play-based environment where they can provide a curriculum that allows children to follow their interests and supports their strengths. What does this mean I hear you say?

At Highfields Child Care Centre our educators have an in depth understanding of child development and can introduce concepts which include pre-math, pre-reading, pre-writing and much more.  By following each individual child’s interests and strengths, we offer experiences and environments where children thrive.  Our belief is that children learn more when they are interested in the topic.

For example, we may have a small group of children who love playing in the mud pit and would stay there all day if they could.  They are not interested in learning to write their name and sitting at the writing table is just not something they want to do.

Our educators take their interest of the mud pit and invite them to help her with planting and digging in the garden.  Through this experience she will introduce concepts that include; measuring, hypothesising, writing, sharing, turn taking, mathematics, sustainability and a long-term project that will go on for months which promotes sustained shared thinking.

Why is play based learning so important?

We truly believe that every child has the ability to be and do whatever they desire.  We see children as capable and component learners with the ability to judge their own skill level and capabilities.  Our learning spaces and our educators support children through play to take safe risks and create environments where they can practice skills such as perseverance, cooperation and relationship building.

Our play-based focus on children’s emerging autonomy, allows them to have a strong sense of agency.  Agency provides them with an opportunity to have some control over what occurs in their everyday world.

By offering children play with open ended resources, they can use their imagination and create things that we would never have even imagined.  When we trust children’s abilities and truly see them as capable within their play, they come to life before our eyes.

How do our educators support children’s play?

We believe that children require extended periods of uninterrupted play.  Our educators make judgments throughout the day and adjust their routines to enable children to either continue with their play and move routines slightly or they allow them to return to their play later in the day.

Respect is always demonstrated when we interrupt children’s play.  Children’s “work in progress” is left out or stored safely so they can return to their play after lunch or rest time for example.

How can you support your child’s development through play?

Enrolling your child into Highfields Child Care Centre will provide them with rich learning environments, where they can play and build beautiful reciprocal trusting relationships.  We see our centre’s as an extension of each child’s home.  Children cannot learn until they feel safe and this is a fundamental part of our philosophy.   The relationship that we have with a child’s family is of high importance to us too.

We believe that we are in a partnership with you in your child’s learning journey and below are some suggestions to support your child’s play at home.

  • reading to your child daily;
  • asking your child lots of questions to engage their curious minds;
  • giving your child extended periods of uninterrupted play both indoors and outdoors;
  • where possible limit screen time; and
  • encouraging conversations about what interests your child.

We value your input and encourage you to:

  • share information with your child’s educators about your family and culture;
  • share your child’s interests, likes and dislikes with us;
  • be a part of the learning that is occurring in your child’s classroom by getting involved and supporting educators to extend the learning even further;
  • share a talent you have which could spark some interest within the learning environments.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of learning through play, read more through this great infographic and article by Unicef who aim to strengthen learning through play in early learning childhood education programs.