Why Play in
Early and Elementary Education
Article 31 of the Unites Nations Convention states parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.
(“Article 31: The necessity of play in children’s lives – Humanim”) Play is an essential part of children’s social, emotional, creative, and cognitive well-being
(American Academy of Pediatrics, 2013)
COME PLAY AND LEARN ALONG THE WAY – Perform to Learn Academy
Teachers at P2L are Coaches – Students at P2L are Players
The curriculum at P2L is our Playbook and the Classrooms are Play-Based Environments
Play stimulates the production of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. Often called the “happy hormone”, dopamine results in feelings of well-being. A primary driver of the brain’s reward system, it spikes when we experience something joyful.
When our “Players” are engaged in activities that stimulate hormones that bring happiness, joy and contentment, their overall ability to engage with and master information in our play-based environment is far greater than for students who are in less stimulating and joyful environments.
The emotional wellness of our “Players” is extremely important. At P2L the emotional wellness of our “Players” supersedes our efforts to deliver academic content. Much like a cup, if our “Players” are full adding anything that they can’t receive exacerbates their current state and makes it incredibly difficult to get them engaged in a learning environment.
Play-based learning provides our “Players” an opportunity to feel excited and joyful about their opportunity to play and engage in kinesthetic learning which promotes a happier and more content student. When our “Players” feel they have a choice in what they are learning and how they are being taught it inspires a trust-based environment that promotes strong relationships with the coaches and “Players”.
Emotional development in an environment that emphasizes play-based learning, allows children to deeply experience their own feelings as they explore and discover. They can experiment with different emotions, figure out what makes them happy or sad, and learn how to manage various feelings as they arise. By way of example, you can set up a play grocery store, which allows children to role-play and pretend to be a customer, cashier, or store owner. They also get the opportunity to learn about money and how to handle transactions.
Play-based environments provide our “Players” exploration and learning opportunities about both their culture and cultures around them. They develop problem-solving skills, critical evaluation skills, and creativity as they learn in a play-based environment. Play-based learning magnifies the importance of and sensitivity to one’s senses. Play reinforces memory and attention and improves communication and language skills.
The P2L philosophy allows learning through exploration, supporting independence and boosting creativity and imagination. Giving children the opportunity to experience play during their early years has a huge role in their cognitive development. Through play, they learn how to form conclusions, use reason, come up with creative ideas and understand patience.
Each child goes through certain stages of development that can be enhanced and encouraged through their interactions with other children and their environment. Engaging in free play can help teach kids the ability to make decisions and enhance their critical thinking capabilities (“The Benefits of Play for Cognitive Development in Children | LTC”). These skills can emerge when a child is faced with certain external or internal questions such as why, when, what, or how. “Encouraging a child to ask questions about their environment can help them form their own logical conclusions later.” (“The Benefits of Play for Cognitive Development in Children | LTC”). An essential aspect of critical thinking can emerge when children are allowed to make some decisions on their own. Giving a child the proper room to think for themselves and face challenges is a great way to form and sharpen critical thinking skills. Allowing a child to play without a strict set of limits can be beneficial for their growth and development. This way, they’re encouraged to make their own conclusions and progress through different approaches.
Physical Development -
fine and gross motor skills
Play-based learning also allows our “Players” to strengthen their physical abilities. Through play, our “Players” learn how to balance, hop on one foot, throw and catch a ball, and practice using a variety of other fine and gross motor skills – for example: hopscotch. This game is an excellent way to combine a fun game with learning. By playing hopscotch, our “Players” can practice counting while exercising motor skills and having fun! In this instance, play-based learning strengthens balance, dexterity, coordination, self-confidence, social skills, and overall mood.
When children learn and play at the same time, they can be creative and imaginative as they come up with new ideas and explore them in a variety of ways. Providing our “Players” art supplies like paint, manipulatives, and construction paper, we then ask them to express themselves based on their imagination. This encourages our “Players” to create art projects, play with textures, and learn about color while tapping into their creativity and imaginations.
Creativity starts with child’s play. When children engage in play activities, it provides them with opportunities to examine a scenario from multiple perspectives and think of different ways to solve a problem. During this time, there’s no limit to their imagination. (Creativity and pretend play | British Council).
Play-based environments develop a deeper level of interest and engagement in learning. When our “Players” enjoy their play-based environment, they are more likely to want to learn and explore new things, boosting retention of new information and memory. Play-based learning offers endless benefits to our “Players”.