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What is Play-Based Learning? 

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Play-based learning is a child-led form of early childhood education. It encourages children to build upon their developmental skills through voluntary play-based activities. The goal of this form of learning is to encourage a child’s natural curiosity in the world around them. 

In this article, we’ll be talking about how play-based learning differs from academic-led programs, and how Vivvi incorporates it as part of its inquiry-led model. 

Play-Based Learning: Understanding This Learning Model

So what is play-based learning? This learning model may look slightly different depending on where it is being used and by whom. However, a play-based curriculum that helps children learn better, will be distinguished by a few key elements:

Free Play: In real play-based learning, the child decides what they will be doing. This is distinct from “game-based learning”, which can be fun, but is controlled by a teacher.

Process-Based: In play-based learning, the journey is more important than the destination. Instead of setting strict learning goals, the process of learning iswhat matters. 

Unstructured: In play-based learning, the child has plenty of choices in what to learn and how to engage with it. The point is to promote curiosity as well as engagement with learning.

Fun: What’s more important to a child than fun? Play-based learning should be an enjoyable experience, that helps instill a lifelong love of finding and figuring out new things. 

This form of early learning tends to develop into a rhythm, with teachers guiding children along further learning pathways. Playing outside could lead to children spotting animals and asking questions about them that the teacher can answer. The teacher can then provide books or toys based on new animals, with kids then naturally taking on the roles of animals in imaginative play. 

Differences Between Play-Based and Academic-Based Early Learning Programs

To understand what makes a play-based curriculum special, you’ll need to understand what the difference is between it and “academic” early learning programs. 

Play-based learning is child-centric. Primarily, the core of this learning model is to allow the child to use their curiosity and interests to guide the activities that they do. This isn’t to say that a play-based learning model is unstructured. The complete opposite is true. 

With play-based learning, a teacher identifies a child’s interests and uses a form of early learning that encourages the development of the child’s social-emotional and cognitive skills. A teacher may do this by having open-ended conversations while a child is playing. 

Play-based learning is also inherently space-based. A play based classroom in this situation may have a variety of different areas, each with its own set of toys and learning aids to engage with.

Academic programs, on the other hand, are more structured and curriculum focused. It’s up to the teacher to provide the answers and guide the children through the process of finding that answer and understanding it. Academic early learning programs are inherently time-based. Blocks of time are allotted to work on developing a particular kind of skill.

This isn’t to say that academic learning is necessarily “worse”. Indeed, repetition and guidance are great ways to learn concepts such as letters and numbers. However, in comparison to child-led early learning, it is inherently limited in that it is best for imparting a specific piece of information. 

With a play-based curriculum, kids can get the best of both worlds: they can develop multiple skills all at the same time, helping them grow into well-rounded individuals. 

The Vivvi Model: Embracing Child-Led Learning 

At Vivvi, we’ve wholeheartedly embraced the concept of a play-based curriculum. Here are a few reasons why.

The most important reason is that it’s fun. No really, that’s it! If a child is having fun, they’re going to view learning as a positive experience. If a child sours on learning, it can hold them back for the rest of their life. 

By learning through play, children will be putting all their concentration on having fun – and, therefore, all their concentration on curiosity. This will help the child develop problem solving and fine motor skills in the early years of life.

As mentioned, play-based learning also means more well-rounded learning. Kids who learn through play aren’t just taking in new information. They’re also interacting with their peers, and developing their social skills and emotional maturity. How can a child learn with their peers if no one but the teacher is allowed to talk?

The benefit of play-based learning on language development cannot be understated. Learning to communicate information to other children allows kids to naturally develop confidence in speaking. 

At Vivvi, we’re dedicated to encouraging the kind of wild curiosity that comes with play-based learning. Our spaces are designed to encourage play and exploration, and our outstanding teachers are trained in guiding children along their learning journey. If you’re interested in the play-based learning opportunities that Vivvi offers, don’t hesitate to contact us

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