Embracing Play: The Key to Effective Teaching | Picture News
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Embracing Play: The Key to Effective Teaching

By Hayley Winter, @allaboutearlyyears

In the hustle and bustle of the modern educational landscape, where standardised testing and curriculum demands often reign supreme, the value of play in the classroom might seem like an indulgence. However, for educators seeking to foster holistic development and lifelong learning in their students, integrating play into teaching practices is not just beneficial but essential.

Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play, children learn how to learn.”
– O. Fred Donaldson

At its core, play is the language of childhood. It is through play that children explore, experiment, and make sense of the world around them. As teachers, recognising and harnessing the power of play can unlock a myriad of benefits for our students. First and foremost, play promotes creativity and imagination. Whether it’s building with blocks, engaging in imaginative role-play, or creating art, play encourages children to think outside the box, to innovate, and to express themselves freely. An example of this in reality has been during our recent topic of Kings & Queens; children made Buckingham Palace in the construction area and coronated each other on the throne in the role play area, all in their independent learning through play time. These skills are not only vital for academic success but also for thriving in an ever-changing, complex world.

Moreover, play is inherently social. It provides opportunities for collaboration, negotiation, and conflict resolution, teaching children essential interpersonal skills that are crucial for building meaningful relationships and functioning effectively in society. By fostering a supportive play environment, teachers can cultivate empathy, communication, and teamwork among their students.

Using the Picture News poster as a stimulus for the children to take part in a weekly speaking and listening activity whilst introducing children to new vocabulary is a great way to extend play opportunities and learning. This weekly activity is to encourage children to share their ideas, thoughts and feelings, giving opportunities to develop confidence. Children learn to respect others as they develop an awareness that we are all different and have different responses.

Play is so much more than this too, “Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning” (Diane Ackerman). Play promotes physical health and well-being. In an age where sedentary lifestyles and screen time dominate, providing opportunities for active play is essential for promoting healthy habits and motor development.

Just remember…. play is not just for kids; it’s the secret ingredient to unlocking creativity, reducing stress, and fostering innovation in adults too. So let’s play, learn, and grow together!

Want to know more about learning through play? Then follow Hayley Winter on social media at @allaboutearlyyears or come and join The Powerful Play Club for training videos and resources.

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