Play? What is that? Your kids play??
Play is a 4 letter word but not a bad word to use around kids!
When parents visit a play way school their first impression is, “wow so many toys and play materials, very nice” this is then followed by a question, “ this is all fine but what do you teach? What will my child learn?”
And this is where most schools and teachers are unable to help parents understand that Play=learning and how learning happens during play because play is the work of childhood. So schools know that kids learn through play and toys, then why do parents think that play and toys=no learning? It is time to bridge this gap of understanding how children learn through play so that parents and teachers can nurture children through play based learning and growth especially in the early years, the most significant years.
Fredrick Froebel, the father of kindergarten (kinder=child, garten=garden) invented games that he called ‘gifts’, there were 13 gifts in the Froebelian method that teachers were trained to gift children with related songs. Each gift taught kids important concepts of counting, math, concepts, science and math, all through playing with the gifts. This was learning through play.
Maria Montessori designed didactic equipment that involved children’s brain, muscles and senses. Children would learn language, counting, science, geography, all through puzzles, games and activities. This was learning through play.
Lev Vygotsky believed that play helps nurture social and language skills in young children and he stressed on the importance of play in early childhood environments. This was learning through play
Brain research has made significant discoveries about how the brain is stimulated through play. The hand and the brain need each other- Neurologically, "a hand is always in search of a brain and a brain is in search of a hand”- Wilson. Use of the hands to manipulate three-dimensional objects is an essential part of brain development. According to latest brain research when kids play with blocks, push around toys, throw balls, this is constantly fertilizing neural growth.
And the play personality of your child changes as per the age and development of your child. Observe babies in the first nine months as they manipulate toys, they reach for, hold, release, suck with the toy. The focus is on manipulation as their finger muscles are developing and their brain uses all the five senses to learn. This is learning through play.
From 9 to 18 months children will be involved in function games with their toys, tossing, pressing, throwing etc. they are curious to know what each toy can do. This is learning through play.
18 months onwards when the brain is now geared for imagination, children indulge in imaginative play; they give a functional twist at a symbolic level to the toy or object. So a long block is used as a mobile phone or banana. This is the beginning of symbolic play that is the foundation of learning to read and write. When a child can visualize an object as having another function then the child will be able to see the word ‘c-a-t’ and visualize a cat. This is learning through play.
So if kids don’t play, they don’t learn and that is why play is called the work of childhood. So watch your kids play today and observe these schema in their play. What is a schema? A schema is a repeated action in children.
1. Trajectory - fascinated by the way they themselves or objects move through the air.
2. Rotation- Children who just adore circles and anything that goes round
3. Positioning- children who are always placing things in some kind of order
4. Transporting- children who are always on the move, moving items and often carrying a bag
5. Enveloping- children who like to cover themselves or objects as well as hiding
6. Enclosure- children who love to surround or enclose either themselves or other objects
7. Connecting- connectors simply enjoy attaching themselves or objects to other things
8. Transforming- these children spend hours mixing
Yes, children thrive on play because their brains learn best with play. So even though play is a 4-letter word it is one of the best words that adults should speak around children. So tell your child to play today…and play along…it keeps you young!
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