Learning Through Play
It goes without saying that everyone learns best when they are interested, engaged and enjoying. My focus as an adult dwindles when I am sat listening to a PowerPoint presentation at a conference in a grey room; even if I try my hardest, my mind can't help but wander (and I am sure many can relate!) There is of course the odd occasion that you get someone that thinks outside the box; teaches you with enthusiasm and captures your attention. Those are the lessons you walk away from feeling refreshed, with a new outlook and determination in your eyes.
This is what I try to do with the children I teach or look after; be the adult that engages them, thinks differently and approaches each task with an imaginative twist. It saddens me that so many adults think that sitting young children at desks, talking at them and forcing them to be interested in ‘academic’ topics is a suitable way to encourage a love of learning.
Children need to be captured and engaged to learn, or have a hands-on experience.
Play is the foundation for learning; children begin learning the moment they are born and some would argue pre-birth. It is therefore our duty as parents and educators to support and encourage learning from the very start. Never underestimate little ones – they are sponges ready to absorb everything going on around them; if we provide them with more learning experiences, they will absorb more information.
It is also important to remember that children need a childhood; they have so many years ahead of them at school to sit conforming to the government’s ideals of education. We need to ensure that the magic and excitement of learning is never lost. Children should have their own voice and follow their interests and passions, as this is what will drive their excitement to learn and progress. A child that is passionate about dance and theatre should be thought of no lesser than a child whose passion is mathematics and science - both are equally important.
Play + Exploring + Discovering = Learning
Children can play for hours and they enjoy doing it, so let’s take note of this and incorporate learning in this way. There are many ways in which parents can do this, even out and about in the woods (which is my favourite place to learn, discover and explore). I adore capturing children’s imagination and creativity through fictional characters, magic and fairytales; it opens the door to a new realm of adventure where anything is possible.
An example is the ‘Magic Box’, which can be placed anywhere for the children to find; this could be at home, in the garden, or out in the woodlands. You can put almost anything inside the box - perhaps a letter from a fairy asking the children to build a fairy village? Or a tooth from a dinosaur, maybe even a button from Santa’s coat! The possibilities are endless yet it helps to support your child with the start of their imaginative and creative play. It is wonderful to watch the children's minds come alive, and with so many different directions for the story to progress, each learning experience is open ended and exciting.
This all leads me to say that learning really is endless; it all depends on how we as the adults’ capture, inspire and engage their ever-growing minds.