As an educator I view every child as the unique being that they are, with awe and wonder. There is not a single day that passes without me being fascinated by their play. Each and every one of them is extraordinary. Children need to know this, and they certainly show this to us through their play.
When you watch children play, you immediately are captivated by how totally involved they are in what they are doing. You notice how they have given themselves permission to be free and they show it by becoming totally absorbed in their play. Children know how to embrace the moment, and how to demonstrate willingness to interact happily with everything and everyone they encounter on this planet. This childlike essence is what I value, uphold and celebrate as an educator.
Play is what is essential and primary to nurturing children’s learning and development. As children play, they are exploring their world, experimenting with new concepts and are building new understandings. There are different types of play, different stages of play and some key characteristics of play. As educators it is our duty to have an understanding and knowledge of play as a learning tool. Play is universal and a natural part of childhood, it’s important that as early childhood educators, we recognise the different ways in which children play, and provide support to allow the participation of all children in play.
Children are naturally motivated to play, that in itself is the first building block of play based learning. A play-based early learning approach builds on this motivation, using play as a context for learning. In this context, children can explore, experiment, discover and solve problems in imaginative and playful ways.
Play should be both child-initiated and educator supported. By this I mean that children should have the resources and space to drive their own play as well as provocations created by educators to instigate thoughts, questions and new interests. As an educator, I encourage children’s learning and inquiry through interactions that aim to stretch their thinking to higher levels. This motivates children to gain mindful mastery over their environment, promoting focus and concentration. It enables them to engage in the flexible and higher-level thinking processes deemed essential for the 21st century learner. These include inquiry processes of problem solving, analysing, evaluating, applying knowledge and creativity. Play supports positive attitudes to learning, which include imagination, curiosity, enthusiasm and persistence. this way, children acquire and practice important academic skills and learning in a playful context.
As I am writing this, it dawns on me that we as the adults must all be united in our understanding that ‘living is not a race’ it is a journey, something to be enjoyed each day. Therefore, please take the time to stop, breathe, smile and observe your child playing. We must all realise that play is the way that provides the most natural and meaningful means for children to construct knowledge, understanding, skills and joy!
“Play is the highest form expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.” Friedrich Froebel
Written By Anna Kouloubos