Through play-based learning, skilled educators can introduce and reinforce concepts we want children to learn in a way that engages each child’s interests.
Play based learning capitalises on children’s natural sense of inquiry and discovery through hands-on exploration of the world around them. Educators embed elements of teaching and learning within the play experiences that children are interested in and naturally drawn to – and therefore more likely to stay engaged with. This is why the educator has to know each individual child so well, to know what they are interested in and how each child learns best.
Here’s an example: Educators may be intending to explore aspects of early numeracy and literacy with the children in their group. However this learning does not take place in an old fashioned “chalk and talk” type lesson. Rather the educators will embed aspects of numeracy and literacy within the play that children are currently exploring. So some children in the room, who may be exploring gardening, may be encouraged to chart how their vegie patch has changed over the past month. While another group of children may be supported to write/draw a ‘menu’ for their pretend restaurant, while yet another child who is deeply interested in dinosaurs may be encouraged to discuss and document the similarities and differences between the various dinosaurs he has come across. These early literacy skills of pre-writing, drawing and mathematical concepts of classifying and charting are explored through play in ways that are authentic to the child.