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Importance of play-based learning in kindergarten

play based learning

Kindergarten is one of the constituents of the preschool level of education. It succeeds day-care and play school and is regarded as the first step towards formal school education. Usually, children between the ages of 3 and 6 are admitted into kindergarten school. Kindergarten focuses on developing the foundations of a child’s physical, social and emotional skills, which they would require during further academic endeavours. It also introduces them to the basics of the language and stimulates cognitive development amongst them. Various elementary concepts of math, such as shapes, time, numbers, reading and writing etc., are taught to children in kindergarten. Kindergarten is thus crucial to the formative years of a child’s academic and intellectual growth as it works as a launchpad for children.

Young kids possess different learning styles. Learning styles refer to the different methods by which an individual learns and retains some information the best. Different people learn in different ways. Such techniques have been categorised into four main types of learning styles which are as follows.

  1. Visual learning styles: Students that prefer to communicate ideas and thoughts via the use of images, graphics, colours, and maps are said to have a visual learning style. The information must be seen in order to be learned by visual learners. These learners might employ colour, tone, and brightness to recall information because they are likely to have photographic memories. It will be beneficial for visual learners in the classroom to see diagrams drawn out, for instance, on a chalkboard and in slide displays.
  2. Auditory learning styles: Auditory learning implies that a pupil learns best by listening. Instead of reading a textbook or figuring out a project by themselves, they would rather hear the directions for it. A visual learner, for instance, will want to see an example of the project, whereas an auditory learner will prefer to hear about it.
  3. Tactile learning styles: Tactile learners acquire knowledge through touch. Those kids who are more tactile favour games or crafts that let them use their hands. If your child is a tactile learner, they may prefer doodling or drawing to enhance their memory retention skills.
  4. Kinaesthetic learning styles: A kinaesthetic-tactile learning approach necessitates manipulating or touching the subject matter. Multi-sensory learning is produced by combining kinaesthetic-tactile study methods with visual and auditory ones. Kinaesthetic learners pick up knowledge by doing and moving. Children who learn better through physical sensations may struggle to sit quietly for extended periods of time. If your kid is a kinaesthetic learner, they will learn best with a hands-on approach that actively allows them to explore their physical environment.

Although most children possess different learning styles, research says the best way to teach something to children is by combining all four learning types. One such learning pedagogy developed as a solution to this was the play-based learning style. A noted educator, Friedrich Froebel, was one of the first to recognise play’s significance when he established his own kindergarten. He believed that play is the critical foundation for learning in early childhood.

This learning pedagogy has gained widespread popularity among primary educational institutions worldwide and is slowly turning into the dominant pedagogy. This is largely because this pedagogy effectively combines all four main learning styles, as mentioned above, along with being an extremely fun learning methodology for children. This article will discuss the importance of such a learning mechanism briefly.

Types of play under play-based learning

Play-based learning, simply, is stimulating learning through play. It is when your child is encouraged to learn while at play. Play-based learning methodology identifies two types of play. They are as follows.

  • Free play: It is an unstructured, child-initiated activity that promotes imagination development. It is play which is directed by the kids themselves. Sociodramatic play is one form of free play that is frequently recommended. In this sort of play, groups of kids create and abide by social norms, like pretending to be different family members in order to engage in imaginative role-playing.
  1. Guided play: Play that involves teacher guidance or engagement is called guided play. The term “guided play” describes educational activities that mix the child-directedness of free play with an emphasis on learning objectives and adult mentoring. The modification of a children’s board game to include activities that practise spatial and mathematical thinking is an example of teacher-directed play. A teacher observing students acting out a well-known movie and suggesting that the class create their own movie is an example of a mutually-directed play.
  2. Dramatic play: This is when children act out roles and scenarios through play.
  3. Pretend play: This is when children use their imaginations to create and explore new worlds through play.

Importance of play-based learning

To put it simply, children learn best by playing. Children explore, use their imaginations, take chances, work as a team, and solve problems when they play. They are fostering critical abilities that promote social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth. Our brains clearly prefer to learn through play!

Early play-based learning offers many advantages, including helping children develop their cognitive abilities, motivation, and thinking. Many early childhood educators have incorporated the idea and concept of play-based learning into their pedagogy and practices. A significant amount of research has been done on the value of play-based learning for a child’s overall growth and development. The findings support the notion that play-based learning is closely related to, and associated with, the development of the child’s intellectual skills, thinking, and motivation.

A few such benefits of play-based learning in early childhood education, such as kindergarten, have been outlined as follows.

  1. Boosts development of linguistic skills: Enhancing children’s literacy and language development is among the main benefits of play-based learning. Children can practise their language abilities and acquire new words through play-based activities. While learning the definition and grammatical structure of new words also enables kids to make links between written and oral styles of communication.
  2. Strengthens cognitive development: Children have the opportunity to explore and learn about their surroundings in play-based learning settings. As they explore and play, they can learn how to solve problems, be critical thinkers, and be creative. For instance, you might provide blocks to kids so they can construct towers. As kids figure out how to put them together, they can experiment with various sizes and shapes during this game. Along with having fun, they pick up a range of other ideas, like gravity and balance.
  1. Boosts social skills: Play-based learning has the added advantage of allowing kids to engage with others while learning about social norms and expectations and forming bonds with their peers. Children learn how to share toys, take turns, and work together via play. Additionally, kids get conflict-resolution skills, which are crucial for social development as they get closer to kindergarten and beyond.
  1. Stimulates emotional skills: Children can examine their own feelings while exploring and learning in a setting that stresses play-based learning. They can play around with various emotions, discover what makes them happy or sad, and learn how to control different emotions as they come up. For instance, you may put up a pretend grocery store where kids can role-play as customers, cashiers, or store owners. Additionally, they have the chance to learn about money and deal with transactions.
  2. Enables healthy physical development: Children can develop their physical skills through play-based learning. Children develop their balance, one-foot hopping, throwing and catching skills, as well as a range of other fine and gross motor skills through play. You could play hopscotch, for instance. This game is a great way to incorporate entertainment and education. Children may learn to count while having fun and developing their motor skills by playing hopscotch.
  1. Stimulates creative and ingenious thought: Children who learn and play simultaneously can be inventive and creative as they generate new ideas and explore them in various contexts. Children can express their creativity in a specific way through play. It enables one to learn the rationale behind why certain actions are taken inside a particular framework or to come up with novel, original solutions. An example is investigation games. Children are naturally inclined to be exploratory and curious. This game involves asking children to find a number of hidden objects to solve a puzzle. Such a game fosters creativity and problem-solving skills.
  1. Develops enthusiasm for learning among children: Including play also encourages kids to have a positive outlook on learning. Children are more likely to desire to study and explore new topics when they appreciate their learning environment. Additionally, it improves memory and new information retention.

Thus, play-based learning has various advantages for children. One must remember the golden rule while dealing with young children: ‘make things fun’. Children would love to engage in activities that allow them to have fun. Therefore, play, if incorporated into a child’s daily activities, is a great way to foster learning, growth, and a love of learning in them.