There is a great debate over the many pros and cons of play-based learning with many myths that surround the idea of introducing games in the classrooms. With unbiased intentions, let’s take a look at some notable points to both sides.
Children are “lone scientists.” said Jean Piaget, the most influential child development theorist in history. By this, Piaget meant that when children interact with their environments, they discover, experiment, and explore. With no set rules, children are like a blank slate. Unstructured play involves choosing your own adventure – children can choose to use a hammer for their own purpose (driving nails into the wood) or for any other creatively proposed purpose:
To build structures with cardboards;
To dig holes;
To write your name on the ground
Or … any other way you like!
However, the opportunities for discovery and exploration are intensely restricted as usually parents or teachers are always there directing instructing children. In order to find the incredibly evolving wonders unstructured free play does, in helping kids’ creativity grow, one must keep an open mind and think like a kid.
Inspires Democratic Thinking
A playground without guidelines can be dreadful, but the children are learning something very important: democracy beneath all the chaos. Stand back and watch. Sure, sometimes it goes off the rails and causes fights, bangs, and yelling but dig deep.
Have you ever seen children pleasantly negotiating roles in a game? Have you ever looked proudly at kids taking turns, ensuring equality or denouncing bad behavior?
Unstructured play situations are incredible spaces for children to practice abilities that we are constantly trying to emphasize at home and in the classroom.
Here are some democratic skills that you can observe in an unstructured gaming environment:
- Taking turns;
- Creation of group rules;
- Reflect on justice and equality;
- Tolerance for difference;
- Conflict resolution
But as stated earlier, there are two sides to this story: why Play-Based Learning may not always be the best idea.
It May Not Always Lead to Learning
Have you ever seen a child who was effortlessly content playing the exact same game everyday? If children only repeat the same activity over and over again, the benefits will decrease. Children should always participate in circumstances that present new challenges. This is a strong argument in favor of teacher’s interference in children’s play.
There are many ways to evade this. First of all, children’s play environments must be rich in stimuli but also highly diverse. Consider taking children to new play places outside of their comfort zone so they can find new challenges. Likewise, if you classify toys or games that children gravitate to when allowed to participate in free play, consider subtly removing those toys from the environment to encourage children to use their imagination to come up with new activities.
Lastly, you might consider rearranging the child’s playmates. New playmates will add a new variable to the learning environment that will be educational for everyone.
Leadership ideology may disagree with Unstructured Play
Your supervisor or boss may not be a fan of unstructured play. I find this to happen a lot with my students who work in early learning settings. Their bosses often insist that they play with the students.
Often this is the boss’s anxiety because his or her staff seems inactive. To alleviate this problem, consider ways you can work on boundaries to support unstructured play, such as taking notes on the developmental skills students have learned during playtime to show your boss that you are not sitting without doing anything.
Bottom-line, this post has really shown how much guesswork and disagreement there is about the true value of unstructured gaming. However, it is still widely understood by experts that unstructured play is very good for children’s learning as part of a combination of a variety of positive structured, guided, and unstructured learning scenarios.
What is the importance of play?
Play enables children to use their creativity while evolving their imagination, skill, physical, reasoning, and emotional power. Play is important for healthy brain development. It is through play that children become involved and interact with the world around them at a very young age.
Do students learn better when having fun?
Students who are energetic learners are more engaged and have more fun. Compared to passive students, they are more successful after completing their studies. Considering the fact that children tend to show more interest where they’re having fun obviously.
Who introduced the play way method?
Henry Caldwell Cook, a British educationalist famous for his book The Play Way, argued that practically performing and doing was a better learning method than reading and listening and that young people study through play.
How does happiness affect learning?
You learn better when you are happy. Happiness and positive emotions cause dopamine and serotonin to be released in the brain this activity has shown to have positive extremely effects on our memory as well as our brain’s capability to learn.