How Play-Based Learning Is The Foundation For Academic Success

Play-based learning is a well-researched and practiced program in early childhood education that has many benefits to a child's overall development.
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According to experts, positive early childhood experiences can influence life expectancy, good health and the ability to manage stress levels in adulthood. Play-based learning supports children in becoming more familiar with their surroundings through exploring, interactions and investigation.

At ISKL, we often hear parents ask how schools encourage students to learn through play, as opposed to more traditional classroom approaches.

Research suggests that schools that establish a progressive and forward-thinking classroom setting empower children to be more creative and are even more engaged in their learning, all while providing them with positive learning experiences during their formative years.

Play-based learning has many benefits, such as developing socio-emotional and cognitive abilities, which are essential to secure a child’s well-being and growth. But before we look at the benefits of play-based learning, let’s first understand the importance of this learning methodology.

What is play-based learning? 

Play-based learning is an approach to learning that considers play as an integral part of human development and, when cultivated well, can be effective in encouraging learning in children.

The effects of play-based learning on early childhood education allow teachers to harness children’s natural curiosity, guide them through learning, and help them acquire further knowledge and understanding of subject matter.

Play-based learning intends to motivate, stimulate and support the development of language learning, social and emotional skills, concentration and the understanding of concepts in children. These benefits are achieved by keeping in mind that children are far more receptive to learning through play and far more willing to continue the learning process when activities are fun and stimulating.

Why is play-based learning essential for academic success?

Studies have shown that of the many benefits of play-based learning, it is known to have a more positive impact on children’s development of self-regulation, flexibility, and memory. These benefits result in children achieving academic success later in their lives, both in higher education and careers.

Through play, children tap into their creativity by exploring, testing, observing and building knowledge that results in a deeper understanding of the world around them. Children are also motivated to learn and take on the responsibility of learning as they feel empowered to explore their sense of identity.

Through play-based learning, children form a positive relationship with their school, the idea of learning and interacting with their peers, as the program nurtures their cognitive development and social and emotional skills.

These abilities benefit children by preparing them for the next chapter in their academic journey and instilling them with skills they can use throughout their lives to support their success.

What does play-based learning look like in practice?

In this program, teachers integrate play or play-related activities as an effective strategy, such as finger painting, pretend play, or toys, to guide and encourage learning in their students as it taps into the child’s interests.

For example, teachers may provide students with a set of blocks to play with and integrate questions during the process that develop children’s problem-solving abilities or their mathematical or literacy skills. Questions may include, “how many blocks remain if I take this many out?” or “what will happen if I remove these blocks?”

Play-based learning allows children to use all their senses, share their thoughts and feelings, examine their environment, and draw parallels between their prior knowledge and new knowledge they acquire at school.

The importance of play-based learning is highlighted in how children can share their language, customs and culture in the classroom with their peers and teachers as they become more comfortable with their environment through play-based learning.

You can learn more about how we at ISKL develop curriculum pathways for our students here

Play-based learning at ISKL and its benefits

ISKL defines play-based learning, integrated into our Early Childhood program, as an approach to early childhood education inspired by curiosity through play where creative skills are developed to encourage students to become lifelong learners. This program educates young children through child-centred open-ended play.

Our play-based approach uses guided inquiry to nurture a child’s curiosity while providing learning opportunities to develop in all areas, from social-emotional to cognitive to pre-academic skills. At ISKL, we call them Provocations.

This approach is a powerful pedagogy to build the foundational skills in our youngest learners to demonstrate the readiness skills that will ensure success in their transition into Elementary School, among many more benefits.

At ISKL, provocations are set up in the classroom to provide students with intentional experiences to help inspire them to explore, wonder, communicate with each other, and share different ideas.

Provocations are an educational term used to describe a learning journey where students are invited to explore, create, and build using different materials that are open-ended and hands-on to encourage that student to think, wonder and discover all the possibilities.

“During the process, our youngest learners participate in an investigation, inquiry, and discovery process and are encouraged to be inventive and creative while learning to negotiate and work collaboratively,” says Azra Pathan, the assistant principal of ISKL’s elementary school.

“When our youngest learners explore the classroom, we watch them and begin to notice their interests and document them. With this information, we provide more Provocations during the second semester which are geared towards their interests.”

Learn more about what ISKL’s curriculum can help our students achieve with our interactive eBook  “Unpacking ISKL’s Curriculum: Learning Stories”

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