Learning Through Play Essay

Pages: 8 (2816 words)  ·  Style: Harvard  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Teaching

Moreover, as children play, they learn fine motor skills and hand eye coordination that makes it easier for them to absorb skills and learning throughout their lives.

Play also supports learning by enabling children to see for themselves the cause and effect of their actions immediately, catering to their short span of time, and making them remember the impact for a long time. As it is a fun way of doing things, children are more involved in the activities and their concentration for these tends to be more, indicating that the children retain more of what they learn through play.

Take for example the 'Montessori' method that was proposed by Dr. Maria Montessori who developed certain play things such as the red rods and the pink tower that give children the basic foundation and ideas regarding colour, shapes, sizes and balancing. These, when translated on to paper, enable children to better grasp the concept, as it enhances their ability to visualize, having seen the things and experimented with them on their own.

The National Curriculum of Britain has a separate program for children below the age of five years, which is set distinctly from the national curriculum. The national curriculum is set in four key stages from 5 years to 16 and defines what objective and goals need to be achieved till that stage of a child's life.

The program for children below the age of five is termed as the early year's foundation stage and is supported through play activities as it seeks to achieve the following goals:

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"It covers the welfare and development of children. The welfare section covers: Basic checks, such as ensuring staff have undergone all relevant security checks, facilities and equipment safe and suitable for children, quality of the environment, for example, it recommends there should be some access to outdoor space. The development section covers: Personal, social and emotional development, communication, language and literacy, problem solving, reasoning and literacy, knowledge and understanding of the world, physical development, and creative development. " (BBC Learning, 2012)

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The curriculum that is stated in this stage clearly indicates that there is a requirement for some access to outdoor space where the children can be in the open environment so that they can play. Moreover, the list also focuses on children's welfare as well as their educational development, indicating that there should be checks to ensure that the facilities and equipment are safe so that the children may not harm themselves while playing.

According to the findings by Helen Seager: (Seager, 2010)

"Within my own school, justifications that engaging in what appear to be low-status, recreational activities can in fact actually provide an educational experience for all children have influenced a greater thematic continuum from the Foundation stage across into Key Stage 1. My study demonstrated that children were engaged and motivated with their own learning through play. "

She goes on to indicate that as she observed the children immersed in play, they took up those activities that were of particular interest to them, and those which were according to their abilities.

Advantages of Play

Play supports the development of a child overall. By playing without the fear of reward or punishment or under stress of performing well, children tend to be at ease, and in that develop a level of comfort with the activities that they perform making them more assured of their own capabilities. Moreover, as observed by Helen Seager, children tended to pick activities according to their abilities, indicating also that the children were not in any danger of over-stressing themselves as adults might in an academic classroom, where one teach taught the same lesson to everyone regardless of their interests or their capabilities.

As far as healthy development is concerned, physical activity makes children healthy, and when they are involved in play from a young age, they tend to be more active. Moreover, as pertaining to their cognitive and emotional well-being, play allows children to use their imagination and their creativity, and in doing so they learn to manage their sentiments and their reactions to various imaginary situations that they dream up during play. (Seager, 2010) This makes them stronger personally. In fact, as indicated by Jean Piaget's constructivist theory, children are able to gain confidence and fulfil their need for pleasure through play only, and gain a degree of satisfaction from their mastery of play. Moreover, with adult supervision and under the eye of expert teachers who demonstrate to them the manner in which to play, guiding them gently, children learn to and develop fine motor and gross skills as well.

Apart from these advantages, Helen Seager also argues that children have different capabilities and different levels of readiness for formal learning, regardless of their age. Play enables them to get ready for formal education by providing them a system in which they can fulfil their instinctive desire for pleasure, and for exploring the things and the environment around them. Play therefore has a very vital role to play in the development of children.

Role of Teacher Interventions

As indicated throughout this paper, and in various sections of theory, teachers are the important characters in children's lives who can distinguish professionally as to what is the need of the child, and what the child's capabilities are. Therefore teachers, when they initiate learning in an exciting and playful atmosphere, using playful learning as a tool to evoke the interest of children, learning and retention of information is better. According to Hirsh-Pasek and Golinkoff (Hirsh-Pasek & Golinkoff, 2009), children learn social and language skills through free play, defined as physical activity for the sole purpose of pleasure. However, teachers too can intervene and include elements and pedagogy in the substance of play that can enable children to remember these lessons for the rest of their lives. This can be in the form of a teacher helping the children with red rods of different sizes, so that children are practically able to see the difference between bigger and smaller objects and learn to distinguish and apply the same concepts to other situations.


Play is an important part of the development of a young child. It fulfils his instinctive need for pleasure as well as enables him to learn about various aspects that cannot be taught formally. Moreover, if teachers intervene in this process and are able to construct a situation in the play, where various lessons are also to be learnt.

Various learning and education theories postulate various ways in which people retain old information, and learn new things, but a common aspect in all of them is the fact that repetition serves to enhance learning and that play is an important part of a child's development.

In going by these theories, and by the conclusions drawn from various scholarly studies, it is justified to say that play is an important developmental process. As indicated by the British Curriculum and the fact that experts are suggesting incorporation of more physical and recreational activities, it can be said that learning does not all have to be tedious and that it can be made more interesting and long-lasting through play.


BBC Learning. 2012. What is the Early Years Foundation Stage? [Online] Available at: (9 February 2012)

Chomsky, N. 1967. A Review of B.F. Skinner's Verbal Behavior . In L.A. Jakobovits, & M.S. Miron, Readings in the Psychology of Language pp. 142-143. Prentice-Hall.

Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. 2009. Playful Learning: The Role of Play in Early Childhood Education Settings. Research Connections. Research Connections.

Pascal, C., & Bertram, T. 1990. The Effective Early Learning Project: The Quality of Adult Engagement in Early Childhood Settings in the UK. Worcester: Centre for Research in Early Childhood.

Play Therapy UK. n.d. Definition of Play.[Online] Available at: (9 February 2012)

Seager, H. 2010. Play within the National Curriculum. The Plymouth Student… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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