by Kathryn Kyd, Kindergarten Teacher, Mackintosh Boulder
“Children are in love with life, and it is their first love. All its color and movement attract their eager attention.” – Poet Rabindranath Tagore.
Play is the natural way children feed their curiosity and their love of learning. Play teaches children how to express themselves, interact with others, take turns, focus on tasks, make plans, and solve problems. The curiosity, openness, optimism, resilience, concentration, and creativity needed for learning – and for life – are developed through their play. This summer in Keystone I attended IB training on Play-Based Learning. In workshop sessions we discussed how useful play can be in the classroom.
Play-Based Learning (PBL) is a balanced instructional approach focused on process-oriented teaching that encourages children to interact with their environment and helps them make sense of their world. With PBL, a teacher acts as a guide and facilitator who provides purposeful instruction, as well as an observer and collaborator who supports students’ independent and free play activities in the classroom.
Quality PBL requires certain important elements:
- Physical Environment – that provides a classroom layout which invites exploration, inquiry, and learning
- Social/Emotional Environment – that is safe, warm, friendly, and trustworthy so it supports exploration and risk-taking
- Intellectual Environment – that includes discussions, questioning, open-ended activities, choice times, and free times
- Daily Schedule – that contains large blocks of time in which children can develop their play themes, projects, and simulations
Besides being fun, relieving stress, and being linked to emotional well-being, play creates a brain that has increased “flexibility and improved potential for learning later in life” (Lester & Russell, 2008).
Perhaps most importantly, using PBL to enwrap learning in play is one of the most effective ways to nurture the desire children have to understand themselves and the world they live in.