Importance of Play
We often speak with families who want “a structured learning environment” for their child. In essence, what many are looking for is an ‘academic program’ that they think will give their child a head start in school. The quicker they learn their ABCs and 123s, to read, write, count, add, the better … right? Our programs are not “academic based”, they are purely about play, so how can that possibly prepare children for success at school? Interested? Read on.
Long-Term Mental Health
Peter Gray is one of our heroes and his TED talk, The Decline of Play and the Rise of Mental Disorders, is one of our absolute favourites. There has been much research done comparing the childhoods of the past, to the childhoods of today, and the massive rise in stress, anxiety, depression and suicide. We often relate these disorders with older children and adults, however they can start developing in the early childhood in stressful situations, and compound throughout teens and into adulthood. The type of early childhood program you choose for your child can have a significant impact on your child’s mental health.
Successful Life Not Just School Smarts
There’s a beautiful poster which I’ve included below. It highlights what is important in a good childcare centre or early childhood program. Through play and allowing children to be children, they are building creative and critical thinking skills, resilience, motivation, perseverance, curiosity, enthusiasm, self-discipline, initiative, leadership, collaboration, resourcefulness, fairness, confidence, and co-operation. Our job in early childhood is to help children develop the tools for a successful life, not just a successful year in prep.
Academic Versus Play-Based Outcomes
A study compared children attending play-based learning programs, with those attending academic-based programs. They have studied these children through the years and they are now in their mid-adulthood. The research strongly indicates that the children who attended play-based programs were much more successful in life. Academically, the children ended up being about the same, but socially they were worlds apart. The children who attended the formal, academic programs had more crime, more disruption in the community, poor relationships with families, not married as often, and had difficulty holding a job. Click the link for the seven-minute YouTube video on play-based versus academic-based learning.
Observation and Intervention
In the book Learning and Teaching through Play by Anne Kennedy and Lennie Barblett, the authors show that “adopting a play-based approach does not mean that children are left on their own with adults only acting as supervisors. Instead, it means that informed educators observe children in play, interact sensitively with them and use their professional knowledge to promote and extend every child’s wellbeing and knowledge”. Our educators at Eskay Kids spend a significant amount of time observing and reflecting on children’s play. When is the right time to step in, when is the right time to observe from afar, when is the right time to question, extend and plan? We understand that play is a vital tool for learning, so each day we provide children with flexible environments, open-ended materials, time for uninterrupted play, choice of indoor or outdoor play and age-appropriate responses and intentional teaching. There are many opportunities for complete free play, interspersed with opportunities for intentional teaching.
Children Learn Best Through Play
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that all children have a right to play and also to be active participants in all matters affecting their lives. The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) has a specific emphasis on play-based learning, and our National Quality Framework, under which we are assessed, refers to “learning through play” as one of the pedagogical principles of our programs. The EYLF states that “play provides opportunities for children to learn as they discover, create, improvise and imagine. When children play with other children they create social groups, test out ideas, challenge each other’s thinking and build new understandings. Play provides a supportive environment where children can ask questions, solve problems and engage in critical thinking. Play can expand and enhance their desire to know and to learn. In these ways play can promote a positive disposition towards learning.” All early childhood documents provided in Australia (and around the world) acknowledge that play is vital for children, play is essential and children learn best through play.
Play is an Investment in Your Child’s Future
Getting children ready for school has always been a big item for discussion, with report card grades, Naplan scores, select high schools and universities at the forefront of parent’ minds. We know parents want the absolute best for their children, however with today’s rush for ‘everything earlier’ and ‘everything now’, the research is ignored. When you release children from the academic push and pressure they flourish and do much better in the long term. We can’t stress it enough: play is the best way for children to learn and develop to their best potential in future years.
For more information on Eskay Kids centres contact us today:-
07 3823 1145
39 Holland Crescent, Capalaba QLD 4157
07 3381 8882
6 Community Place, Springfield QLD 4300
07 3201 1145
36-38 Collage Road, Mount Crosby QLD 4306