Children are naturally motivated to play. A play-based program 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 creative ways.
A play-based approach involved both child-initiated and teacher-supported learning. The teacher encourages children's learning and inquiry through interactions that aim to stretch their thinking to higher levels.
For example, while children are exploring building with loose part materials, our teachers pose questions that encourage problem solving, prediction and hypothesising. The teacher can also bring the child's awareness towards mathematics, science and literacy concepts, allowing them to engage with such concepts through hands-on learning.
"We didn't even know we were learning we were just having fun"
As with traditional approaches, play-based early years programs are focused on teaching and learning. In such programs, play can be in the form of independent play (activity that is spontaneous and directed by the child), and guided play (also child-directed, but the teacher is involved in the activity as a co-player) with intentional teaching strategies applied. Both of these play based approaches have benefits for children's learning. To capitalise on these benefits, we incorporate both styles into the play opportunities for the children.
Involvement in play stimulates a child's drive for exploration and discovery. This motivates the child to gain mastery over their environment, promoting focus and concentration. It also enables the child to engage in the flexible and higher-level thinking processes of problem solving, analysing, evaluating, applying knowledge and creativity.
Research shows play-based programs for young children can provide a strong foundation for later success. They support the development of socially competent learners, able to face challenges and create solutions.