Why Play-based Learning?

Why Play-based Learning?
Photo by Soraya Irving from Unsplash

I have a strong belief in learning by doing; that it takes the entire body interacting with and working on an assignment as a whole for a concept to truly be grasped. Call me ‘Artsy Fartsy’ and ‘Hippy Dippy’ if you will, but my classroom functioned primarily off of this core self-truth.

I’m not 100% on the Reggio Emilia train, but there are aspects of it that I greatly respect. For anyone in the teaching world (maybe more so in the ECE realm) there has always been great discussion on teaching the whole child-determining their learning style and developing or modifying your lessons to best suit their needs.

Think about a young child you have in your life. What has stood out to you the most when it comes to the way that they play? Have you ever just sat to listen and observe? You may have noticed a reenactment of something that has occurred in your home, like a mommy cooking dinner and telling her “sweetie” to “Please set the table.” Or maybe it’s an animated conversation between the mommy and daddy about the baby not feeling well. What’s taking place is the processing of information that has been experienced and now played out to help develop relationships to things and people in the world around us. Learning is happening.

In an article for parent resources by Wonderschool, Play-based learning is described as the following:

“Play-based learning is a type of early childhood education based on child-led and open-ended play.”


The article then goes on to say…

“Play-based learning helps children develop social skills, motivation to learn, and even language and numeracy skills. Taking initiative, focused attention, and curiosity about the world are all a part of play.”


As I watch my little boy grow, I take note of his wonder and eagerness to explore the things he can reach and get his hands on. Whatever it might be will be ran through his little fingers, examined and then chewed on. He is wanting to grasp what the object fully is. I can’t help but reflect upon my own learning style. If I see something with a specific texture I’m either drawn to further study it or repulsed by it entirely. My whole self is receiving information and determining/deciding on an understanding of a particular subject.

Giving a child the freedom to learn naturally opens up a world of opportunities and builds the foundation of a pathway towards a lifetime of love for knowledge.

“Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.”

American Academy of Pediatrics

Looking for more information on Play-based Learning or the Reggio Emilia Approach?