Learning through Play..!!
Play builds the kind of try-it-out, do-it-yourself character that our future needs.” ~ James L. Hymes, Jr.
“Count the number of apples in this worksheet,” Mumma instructed Tisha, who was just three. While Tisha enjoyed counting, she wouldn’t sit still like most children her age. “Tisha, you’re excellent at catching the ball. Let’s count how many times you can catch it without dropping it,” Papa cheered as they played “Catch” one Sunday afternoon.
As evident in the scenarios above, Tisha’s parents approached numeracy in quite contrasting ways. While her mother tried to instruct her directly, her father amalgamated the concept with play. What was the difference in both the cases and which of the two methods was more effective?
While theorists and researchers have been exploring the various outcomes of guided play, play is innate. Through play, the natural urges of a child find spontaneous expression. It has been present in the history of humankind across cultures and civilizations. Even in the Indus Valley civilization, pots, clay and toy monkeys & carts which could slide down a string would amuse children for a length of time.
Following Fredrich Froebel’s (1782-1852) pedagogy of early childhood education, an environment of purposeful play is considered the best way to engage children in a productive and creative way. Frobel, a German Educator, who invented the Play way Method of Education strongly advocated the idea of teaching a child through the medium of guided play in a friendly natural environment.
Activities should be comprising of stimulating early learning play concepts of math, language, and literacy as well as aiding gross motor, fine motor, social, emotional and cognitive skill development. Children indeed develop problem-solving skills and abstract thinking while they are busy deciphering puzzles or crafting ‘DIY Kits’ The key is to leverage a child’s active involvement and engagement in each of its activities.
Using the principles laid down by Frobel, learner should be working with hands-on activities that engage their five senses for all-round development, diminishing the lines between work and play.
Learning takes place by being physically, emotionally and mentally involved in an activity. The work children do should also account for the individual differences of each learner with instructions aimed for different interests, attitudes, sentiments, capabilities and intelligence levels.
A prerequisite for any form of guided play is an involved adult. Adult involvement in early childhood is only recently being realized in Indian households. Active involvement from a responsive adult creating a positive, warm, and inquisitive environment may facilitate learning and make the learner feel comforted and secured. Involved parents, grandparents and teachers not only develop strong roots of foundation in a learner’s life but also foster a bond and a relationship with the learner creating an open communication passage and a healthy relationship.
Keeping in cognizance, the principles of Guided Play, its benefits and the role of responsive adults in a home setting to facilitate learning effectively, purposeful play activities are ideal for creatively engaging children in activities that develop them holistically.