Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Empowering learning through play

Outstanding Early Years Development  
Decades of research clearly show different kinds of play are crucial to children’s later academic success and to develop their mental health and wellbeing. All children play.  Children’s brains are hot wired to find out about the world around them. This includes finding out about other people, their differences and similarities.  

Every child is unique, we are all unique and learn and function in different ways, according to the ways our brains process information.  Children are sensory learners, and anyone observing a group of children in a play area will see how they intuitively follow their own interests to problem solve and find out what fascinates them.  If socialising with others interests them, they might join in an activity or game, or they might be more interested in standing on the side watching others, observing others’ behaviour.  If they are not currently interested in socialising they will often focus on their own imaginary game.   Good schools offer opportunities to support children to learn personal, social and emotional skills, by providing ‘buddy benches’ or ‘interesting spaces’ where smaller groups can break away from a large play area.   Children involve themselves in different kinds of investigation (play), dependent on their environment and their development stage.  

There are several kinds of normal play.  Individual play, Parallel play, Social play, Associative play, and for children to develop in a balanced way they need the adults, parents, carers and teachers in their lives to support them in their current way of playing.  Sometimes in my line of work I have had parents who unnecessarily worry their child isn’t playing the kind of games or joining in, the way they, the parents, perceive they should be.  This in turn promotes unconscious anxiety in the child.

The very best thing a parent can do is ‘allow their child’s current interests’ and support them in whatever stage they are at by being entirely positive, showing warmth and understanding, and by allowing the child to just be, as they are, right now.  Children will, when they are ready, try all the different ways of playing, this means they are on the way to developing into a healthier, normal, balanced child. 

To truly understand how children learn and develop best, and obtain skills mastery at an early age, please contact Margaret Travers to find out about ‘Playing and Learning’ workshops.