When most people hear the word ‘play’, they think of fun and games. However, it extends beyond both and encompasses the language and activities children engage in to understand, learn about and explore the world around them. Play-based has become such an essential component of learning that it is now being actively encouraged in different learning environments. It is, therefore, important to find as many opportunities as possible to incorporate play-based learning in children’s lives. Play-based learning has several benefits, which we will explore below.
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Play-based learning improves literacy and helps with language development. It actively encourages children to learn new words, use them and practise their language skills. It also allows children to make connections between oral and written language while learning meaning and how to structure words and sentences. Some activities that actively help with language development include storytelling using puppets and creating letters and pictures on boards. They allow children to come up with different stories and act them out, improve their vocabulary and have fun while doing all of it.
The open-ended nature of play-based learning is perfect for encouraging foster children to use their imagination and creativity. They have to come up with different scenarios and overcome challenges while they play. Children also learn from others who use their imaginations and creativity differently in different scenarios.
Art is an excellent play-based learning option and can include playing with construction paper, paint and other items that allow children to use their imagination and express themselves creatively. Children can also use these supplies to explore textures, learn about colours and create art projects.
These art supplies are very easy to find and relatively cheap, so there is no harm in children playing with them as they like. Foster carers can also use their fostering allowance to support these activities and the various projects their foster children choose to work on.
Children can develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills by exploring and learning about the world around them. These skills are vital because they will need them for the rest of their lives, and allowing foster children to develop them when young gives them more time to hone them.
Children can be given blocks to build towers or whatever else they like. While doing so, they can explore pieces of different shapes and sizes and find ways to put them together. They can also learn about other concepts like balance and gravity while doing this.
A critical skill that everyone should have is the ability to build relationships with others. This skill is especially important for foster kids who might have faced negligence or have trauma and thus have difficulty trusting people.
As children play together, they learn how to get along, cooperate, trust each other, solve problems together, resolve conflicts and communicate. They also learn how to be patient because they have to wait for whatever they are playing with to be available for their turn.
Play-based learning also helps kids recognise their emotions and those of others. Once they do, they learn how to navigate them. This is known as play therapy, and it can be an essential tool for helping children relieve stress and work through different stressors.
Play can also help children find time and learn how to process complex emotions. Doing so is especially important for foster children who have dealt with trauma and other complexities in their lives. It is highly satisfying for foster carers to know that their foster children are learning to do this.
Play is incredibly beneficial to children and more so when combined with learning. Creating a play-based learning environment will depend on your foster children, their ages, and their interests, but it is pretty easy to create one.
Alex is fascinated with “understanding” people. It’s actually what drives everything he does. He believes in a thoughtful exploration of how you shape your thoughts, experience of the world.