A common misconception is that when a child is playing, no important learning is occurring.
This misconception is particularly so when a little one is playing with a few random materials that don't seem to have an obvious educational purpose. To a parent, a child playing with a puzzle about shapes or flipping through a book has at least some educational credibility.
No matter what our preconceived notions are about the importance of play for child development, let's be guided by what the research says.
Here in Melbourne Australia we are fortunate enough to have amongst us Professor John Hattie of Melbourne University who is leading the way for education reform worldwide with his analysis of what impacts student learning.
Hattie's extensive analysis of play programs confirms what many early childhood teachers already know ... 'the place of play in enhancing achievement has been long cited and even today it seems it is very powerful' (Hattie 2009)
Lively Learning provides extensive play learning opportunities for your child
Our Discovery Playroom is filled with carefully selected play opportunities to develop your young child's multiple intelligences.
Play experiences are purposefully connected to a term theme so that learning is meaningful in the context of the world around us. It makes sense to focus learning about patterns (stripes, dots) and textures (soft, smooth, bumpy) in the context of animals through our 'Zoo' theme.
With each term, there is a new theme paving the way for new concepts to explore and language to learn.
Comparing the 'Zoo' theme to our 'Great Outdoors' theme, learning turns to a focus on transformation (change as grass is grown, a caterpillar turning into a butterfly) and counting (how many bugs are caught in the spider web?, how many from a set of insects have wings or no wings?)
You might be wondering how our young children are learning all these concepts.
The answer….. predominantly through play.
How does play with a tub of rice, child sized pots and cooking utensils improve learning?
This was a question I was once asked by a parent new to Lively Learning as she observed her child at play.
The learning through this play experience may not initially be obvious. But now consider this.
Filling and emptying different sized cooking pots with rice provides the necessary hands-on-experience to learn about volume and capacity.
Selecting a big scoop rather than a small scoop to fill a container more quickly is evidence that a young child is developing an understanding of time.
Discovering that a pot filled with rice is much heavier to lift than a pot with less rice is integral to learning about mass.
Full, empty, too much, not enough, pour out, fill up and so on are words you would use as you and your toddler played with the rice and containers.
What better way for your toddler to understand the meaning of the word 'full', for example, when they have in front of them a pot full of rice they have spent time filling to its capacity.
Play, involving actions such as scooping, pouring and stirring rice, develops fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination.
Interpersonal and Interpersonal Intelligence
Playing alongside others; observing and copying what others are doing; sharing the pots and utensils; and waiting your turn to use the scoop are all opportunities for your child to practise the etiquette of 'working' with others and of self- control.
Feeling the rice as it slides through little hands; noticing what rice looks and smells like; seeing gravity in action as rice drops down when it's let go; hearing the sound of rice as it is poured into a pot are play experiences that activates learning through multiple senses- seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling- enabling your toddler to gain an enriched concept of what rice is.
What an opportune time it would be, if after play with rice at Lively Learning, you went home to cook rice with your toddler. The change in the look and feel of the rice would lead to even more discoveries for your little one. Of course tasting the warm rice just completes the sensory experience.
Who knew that play with rice and a few utensils could lead to so much learning?!
We guide you through play at Lively Learning
It is perfectly reasonable that you might not realise the learning worth of a play activity. After all, you are most likely not trained in early childhood teaching and learning.
That is why we have attached a learning intention to each activity in our Discovery Playroom to use as a guide as you take the lead role as teacher to your child.
A learning intention, as detailed in my previous blog, is a clear and simple statement about the intended learning of an activity.
For example the learning intention “I am learning about the word ‘juicy’” makes obvious to you (which you can then make obvious to your child) the intended learning of the orange and juicer activity.
Guiding your child’s play to incorporate the intended learning of an activity will ensure your child gains a balance of the skills, knowledge and understandings across the multiple intelligences which are planned within the two year cycle of the Multiple Intelligence Program.
Be mindful however that there will be lots of incidental learning happening as well.
When squeezing an orange to learn about the word ‘juicy’ your child might also discover that an orange is round; it needs to be cut open for the juice to be squeezed out; there are pips in the orange; back and forth hand actions are needed to make the hand juicer work; the orange feels heavy when it is picked up; it smells orangey and tastes sweet; and so on.
Take advantage of our Discovery Playroom
A Lively Learning session incorporates twenty-five minutes of play in our Discovery Playroom.
You will find many educational activities, sensorial opportunities and messy play experiences to engage and satisfy your young child’s insatiable curiosity for learning.
Not only do we provide our teaching expertise and a planned Multiple Intelligence curriculum; we provide the equipment and activities you might find too time consuming, costly or messy to do at home.
Everything in our Discovery Playroom is set up for you to spend one-on-one quality, uninterrupted time guiding your child’s learning intentionally as well as delight together in the incidental discoveries as well.
Play is not to be dismissed as down time between the two teacher-led components of a weekly Lively Learning session.
Play is your child’s very important work.
Lively Learning Programs allow YOUR CLEVER CHILD TO SHINE
This article is in reference to our Multiple Intelligence Program
Let our qualified teachers maximise early learning critical to your young child’s development:
MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCE PROGRAM 16 months - 4 years (with carer)
Expert teachers will develop an individual learning plan to advance your child in early reading, handwriting and number: READ WRITE AND NUMBER PROGRAM 3 - 5 years
BOOK NOW for a free trial session: http://www.livelylearning.com.au/programs.html