"Play is the highest form of research". Albert Einstein.
By Kelly Goodsir - Director of Educational Programs
We have all heard the term 'children learn through play' but what does this really mean? How valuable is it really towards your child's ongoing development and what investment does this make towards preparing your child for school? Is play really at the foundation of education? The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) defines play-based learning as: 'A context for learning through which children organise and make sense of their social worlds, as they engage actively with people, objects and representations'.(DEEWR, 2009, p. 46).
Play is natural and spontaneous for children and it is central to forming relationships with others, understanding and experimenting with new objects and exploring and making sense of the world. As children play, they learn to solve problems, to get along with others and use trial and error. Integrated throughout play is an essential tool: 'communication'.
The best play can occur when the adult gets involved alongside the child. Becoming part of a child's play can sometimes take practice. Some parents feel that they need to give up 'childish' things and 'grow up'. However, this is not true for parents. Some suggestions for joining your child's play include:
Observe. Watch your child closely to learn what he or she can do and what they try to persist or challenge themselves in. Also, be aware of your child's favourite activities.
Follow. Join in and play with your child so that they know you are interested in what he or she is doing. You can add to the complexity of the play, however, let your child be in control and determine the direction of play.
Be creative. Let go of the adult idea that there is only one way to play with a toy. Use toys in different ways and you will be amazed at how diverse toys and play can really be. Being creative will make playing more fun for you and your child.
Play has different connotations for children and adults. Adults are often busy working and they play for recreation to break the monotony of work. Children play all the time except when they are sleeping. Hence it can be said "Play is to a child what work is to an adult". In other words,