What is play

What counts as play?

A Call to Action for Early Childhood Professionals

In the vibrant landscape of early childhood education, the concept of play stands as a beacon of learning and development. From the humble wooden rainbow toys to the intricacies of LEGO sets, the playroom serves as a fertile ground where young minds sprout, flourish, and bloom.

Yet, amidst the kaleidoscope of colors and textures, a sobering reality persists: many children aged 2 to 5 spend a significant portion of their time in sedentary activities, as underscored by recent statistics shared by the American Association of Pediatrics.

While collections of every shape and size wood of wooden rainbow toys seem to be present in every IG Playroom, we still have these startling statistics of the majority of 2-5 years being completely sedentary for 30-56 minutes out of every hour.

Such revelations prompt us to question the alignment between the innate potential of play and its integration into early childhood development practices. As stewards of young learners, we must challenge the inclination to view play as a mere pastime, detached from the vital processes of learning and growth.

What makes learning a ‘Playful Learning Experience’?



✨A fancy Playroom?

Having worked as an Occupational Therapist in the most rural conditions in South Africa and with some of the most privileged children in the Western world- I can tell you that it is about a lot more than money can buy.

In a recent review of evidence by the research paper delves into the profound impact of play-based learning on early childhood development. Authored by a team including Jennifer Zosh, Emily Hopkins, Hanne Jensen, Claire Liu, Dave Neale, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Lynneth Solis, and David Whitebread, the study reviews existing evidence to elucidate the multifaceted nature of play in shaping young minds.

Through a comprehensive analysis, the researchers highlight five fundamental principles that characterize playful learning experiences. These principles include:

Learning through play
  1. Joyful: Playful learning experiences evoke a sense of joy and wonderment, igniting the spark of curiosity within young learners.
  2. Interactive: Through interactive engagement, children actively participate in the learning process, fostering deeper connections and understanding.
  3. Socially Interactive: Play serves as a communal endeavor, fostering collaboration, empathy, and social competence among peers.
  4. Meaningful: Rooted in relevance and context, playful learning experiences imbue learning with purpose and significance.
  5. Actively Engaging: Far from passive observation, play-based learning requires active participation, encouraging exploration, experimentation, and discovery.

Embracing Playful Learning Experiences in Early Childhood Settings

Overall, the research underscores the transformative potential of play-based learning as a holistic approach to early childhood education, advocating for its integration into educational frameworks to nurture resilient, curious, and empowered young learners.

Armed with this knowledge, early childhood professionals are called upon to embrace the transformative potential of play-based learning. By weaving evidence-based practices into the fabric of our educational frameworks, we can create nurturing environments where play flourishes as a catalyst for holistic development.

In conclusion, let us heed the call to action embedded within these insights. Let us champion play-based learning as a cornerstone of early childhood education, fostering a generation of resilient, curious, and empowered learners.

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