Many Americans try to live by the famous motto: “Work hard, play hard.” However, it begs the question—should children follow the same structure?
Do parents realize the variety of options available for learning in early childhood, aside from traditional preschools? Play-based learning is becoming increasingly popular, and the reasons below explain why.
The Work Hard Approach
It may sound ridiculous to say that kids often grow up with a “work hard” approach, but working hard applies to academics just as much as it applies to the corporate world.
Teaching basic school subjects can undoubtedly help children perform better on tests at a young age, but the effect isn’t sure to last. In fact, forcing children to begin an academic program at a very young age could potentially do more harm than good. But why?
To start, many traditional programs are not engaging for the children to begin with. This can lead to an early idea that all school is boring and unimportant. How can adults expect children to learn at school if their energized little minds are in ten other places beyond the classroom?
The Play Hard Approach
A “play hard” approach may be more beneficial to young children when compared to more traditional academic methods. Sure, all preschools are unique in their own right. However, those that utilize play-based learning tend to show higher levels of development in their students overall. Social skills are invaluable to humans of any age, and they can be much easier to learn as a young child—while in the proper environment for it, of course.
Learning by engaging in play can also increase essential skills like creativity and language. Once again, these are invaluable skills that will help children succeed all throughout their lives.
It also promotes children to explore their surroundings in a way that interests them. Why explain that leaves fall from the trees when they could go outside and see it for themselves? Touching the freshly-fallen leaves in autumn and observing their color and texture is going to stick in a child’s memory in a much more vivid manner than if they simply stared at a picture book while trying to sit still in a classroom.
Types of Play-Based Learning
There are many different ways to learn through play and different advantages to each. Many programs have a combination of these activities. Some programs are completely child-led, while others have more guidance or structure from the adult supervisors.
Acting out different scenarios is fantastic for a child’s imagination, as well as for social growth. Children may pretend that they are doctors, teachers, or even fictional characters from their favorite stories. When children put themselves in the shoes of those they admire, they can learn how to be more like them and learn critical skills along the way.
Arts and Crafts
Who doesn’t love a good art project? Using materials like paints, crayons, and modeling clay can be a great way to teach children about colors and textures. Making art allows children to embrace their growing creativity.
Playing outdoors can encompass many different forms of play, but in a different environment that many children love. They can pretend, run around (with proper safety precautions, of course), and even build things with sticks and other objects.
Play-based learning can be a fantastic way to develop a child’s mind. Through engaging activities, they are able to develop lifelong skills that will help them succeed as they enter a traditional school environment—and all throughout life.