Learning Through Play

The most important period of human development occurs in the first 8 years of life. It is essential to give children the chance to experience a variety of opportunities to help them learn and grow. At Concordia Place, our early childhood programs provide a foundation for learning through purposeful play. You may be wondering,

“What on earth does that mean?” or “How is my child learning from playing?”

What is Learning Through Play?

Well, let me explain. Play is essential for young minds and bodies. It can support social and emotional development, fine motor skills (small muscle movements like picking up food or a toy) and gross motor skills (large muscle movements like jumping or climbing), as well as language development. Learning through play allows for child-led education. The teacher’s role in play is to facilitate learning by using materials that grow with the child, setting up opportunities for different kinds of play, and observing and documenting patterns and behaviors. Play is enjoyable for and chosen by the child. The end goal of play isn’t the priority, it is the process itself.

How does it work?

Now that you have an idea of what learning through play is, let’s look at some examples.

  1. A teacher calls the children to the carpet and starts to play “Simon Says.” When Simon says “touch your head!”, the children are learning both listening skills and about body parts. If Simon says, “jump up and down!”, the kids are developing their gross motor skills.
  2. Imagine two children are playing with blocks. They are both trying to stack them and are getting frustrated that the other is putting theirs on top. They then figure out they can each put a block one by one or they could build their own towers. This example shows problem solving skills, conflict resolution, and developing bonds with peers.
  3. A teacher sets out colored blocks and bowls at a table. The children take different approaches to playing with the blocks. Some stack them, some sort them by color, and some make patterns. These are all great ways for kids to learn critical thinking skills and early math concepts. The teacher can further this learning by asking open-ended questions such as, “How high can you stack them?” or “How are these different or the same?”

How can you incorporate play based learning at home?

You probably already are! Continue to provide opportunities for your child to play at home. Take a few minutes each day to get on their level and watch what they are doing. Ask open-ended questions like, “What are you making?”, “How did you do that?”, or “What else could you try?” You’ll be surprised just how much your child is learning just by playing.