Fridays with Franky: The Joy of Learning Through Play
I have shared about the power of play numerous times in my weekly post and I will likely continue to do so in the future. When one really pays attention and examines all of the subtleties that are occurring when children play one can see that enormous opportunities for learning that are present – learning that takes place on so many levels. There is nothing in the academic world that compares to the efficient and significant learning power of play!
Teachers will tell you that the most important element of learning is engagement – when the student is actively interested and participating in the topic, she/he is at the optimum learning level. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that when kids are playing they are fully engaged, whether it be playing a game, creating something new, searching for a particular item or object. Play is the epitome of engagement!
“Children learn so well through play…
They don’t even realize that they are learning
because they’re so interested in what they’re doing.”**
Critical thinking is in high gear when a child is engaged in play. She/He is analyzing the situation to determine the preferred outcome and then determining how she/he can contribute to achieving that outcome. As progress is made toward the outcome, critical thinking is occurring naturally allowing her/him to make adjustments enroute to the preferred outcome. The same processes are occurring within the brain whether it is through play or via a complex math problem – either way intellectual growth is happening!
When play occurs with others, conflict resolution skills develop. Observe free play occurring on any playground with a group of kids (sadly, this assumes you will be able to find a group of kids enjoying freeplay on a playground) you will see kids setting rules and boundaries for the game they are engaging in. There will undoubtedly be differences of opinions and disagreements, but more often than not (unless and adult jumps in and messes things up!) they will negotiate to the point of agreement and get on with the game! There is no need to describe the steps of conflict resolution prior to this gathering, it just happens!
And play offers remarkable opportunities to develop, enhance and practice a plethora of social skills – social skills that will prove effective in achieving success in life. In addition to learning how to navigate conflict successfully, kids learn to communicate more effectively while playing. They learn to be inclusive and welcoming in order to attract more participants to their play activity. They learn the ability to compromise as well as when to compromise and when to hold their ground. They learn to be grateful and appreciative of what others bring to the activity.
Play is often equated with fun – no argument here! But fun is often considered insignificant and often viewed as the antithesis of the seriousness of learning. Nothing could be further from the truth! It has been repeated many times over that play is the work of children. Yet, we are constantly hearing of schools significantly reducing or eliminating things like recess and physical education. The value of play is invaluable!! And kids need more than most are getting today.
Although we offer nearly 40 structured activities at WeHaKee Camp for Girls, the approach to each of these activities is through fun and play. We find if we engage the campers in fun and play, they can learn virtually anything successfully! Play, fun, learning and growing all happen simultaneously at camp each and every day! And parents consistently share how their daughter’s WeHaKee experiences have positively impacted their school success as well. As the American Camp Association states, ‘Camp Gives Kids a World of Good!’ – and it all happens in a world of fun and play!
Thanks for joining us today and have a great week!
** From The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland, Tim Walker in Taught By Finland, Oct. 2, 2015