Education research identifies the various opportunities that play based learning presents to children. There are specific types of this method of instruction such as outdoor play and sociodramatic play. The kids are influenced and exceptionally effected by the interaction and engagement that play based learning presents. In addition, creating pretend issues and resolving them is one of the many components of play that embed skills such as problem solving and utilizing imagination.
By teachers taking advantage of these opportunities, children will be better prepared for their life ahead by enhancing their social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. Students will decrease their likelihood of displaying disruptive behavior in school and elsewhere because of the release of energy and aggression during play. Skeptics viewpoint opposes play based learning for children due to the fact that they are unaware of the various positive outcomes it can produce and interpret it as a break from education.
However, play based learning is in fact a beneficial aspect to developing children’s lives and is crucial to incorporate at a young age. Preparation of Future Generations through Play Based Learning As you drive past a playground, you hear the laughter and loud voices of children. In that exact moment, you may not be aware that they are in fact developing crucial skills that will be utilized throughout their entire life. It seems as if something so simple as playing with peers is incapable of occupying such influential power. However, play-based learning presents endless possibilities and enhancements for children.
Encouraging mental growth and providing an environment to do so, at a young age is imperative. Children learn in various ways, but play-based learning tends to produce higher motivation, as well as implant vital life skills because it provides opportunity for indirect instruction. Education is commonly viewed as teaching specific curriculum, but when it comes to young children they need to be taught more than just basic school subject material. Whether it be in school or at home, teachers and parents have the role of guiding children and encouraging them to expand their growth through skills.
Social skills are highly prominent because interactions with others occur every day. According to Viega, Neto, and Rieffe (2016), “Free play is the primary context for positive-social interactions, but it also enables children to act out aggressive tensions, helping them to regulate these aggressive feelings and behaviors” (p. 50). Not only does interacting with their peers make the children more socially stable, but free play also acts as a release of unwanted aggression that commonly builds up in young kids and becomes a disruption.
They are enhancing their communication skills and learning the importance of engaging with others. In addition to the social aspects of play based learning, children’s emotional growth is also beneficially effected. While playing, children use their imagination to create hypothetical situations and react to them based on their personal beliefs and aspirations, which they then express to others and receive exposure to different perspectives (Viega, Neto, & Rieffe, 2016, p. 50). Free play allows the children to be themselves or pretend to be someone else which can shed light on their interests or fascinations in life.
Social and emotional skills are intertwined during play when the children are able to express their feelings to one another and realize that they may be the same in some aspects or very different (Viega, Neto, & Rieffe, 2016, p. 50). While improving mental health, free play is also assisting children in staying active. At a young age, it is critical to incorporate physical activity in the daily schedule to help eliminate some of the built-up energy children produce and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Some instances of free play occur outdoors which allows the children to be more active and reduces restrictions that may occur while engaging in a classroom. In relation to cognitive skills, play based learning is constantly demanding thinking strategies within the children. Viega, Neto, and Rieffe (2016) state, “The decline of play time, has been accompanied by a decline in young people’s mental health, and these decreases are believed to be connected (p. 49).
Different teachers will have different beliefs and some argue that scheduling time for play is a distraction from their direct instruction which results in them decreasing the amount of play time given to the students. This has also resulted in a decrease of cognitive development which could be due to the lack of brain stimulation the kids would be getting from a most often desired way of learning through play. In reference to the different forms of play based learning, outdoor play offers infinite activities and increases the freedom for the children to roam and generate ideas.
Children are often excited to take a break from the classroom and be outdoors which increases their participation in play and allows for more hypothetical situations to be created due to the non-restricting environment (Li, Hestenes, and Wang, 2016, p. 62). It is obvious that children will be more willing to go outside and play rather than sitting at a desk listening to a teacher talk due to their mindset at this age. Teaching styles need to interest the kids and pertain to their likes in order to receive cooperation. When evaluating pretend play, it has become clear that there are different types.
According to Li, Hestenes, and Wang (2016) “From a behavioral perspective, pretend play can be enacted individually, or in a social group. The first type is referred to as solitary pretend play, and the second type is called social pretend play” (p. 62). One type of pretend play is not necessarily better than the other but they each provide a different experience for the child. During solitary pretend play the child is demonstrating independence while social pretend play is the opposite and puts more of a focus on interactions with peers.
When imagining different scenarios, the children often incorporate their knowledge of reality and re-enact very possible situations but can also demonstrate fictional events which assists them in learning the difference between these two (Li, Hestenes, & Wang, 2016, p. 61). All of the skills that young children obtain through play are occurring at such a critical time in their life. Li, Hestenes, & Wang (2014) argue that “In general, pretend play is thought of as most related to cognitive development because it emerges at the age when children’s symbolic thinking is forming” (p. 1) Pretend play is assisting the natural process that occur as a child learns and grows. Embedding outdoor pretend play into children’s daily schedule is a guarantee of assisting their mental growth as well as improving other areas of development also. Not only can pretend play be successful in different environments, but there are also different types of play that target certain skills. Sociodramatic play is a common example of play based learning that is beneficial to the children for various reasons.
Calabrese (2003) defines sociodramatic play as “a form of voluntary social play in which children use their imaginations and creativity” (p. 607). Sociodramatic play is made up of different activities that encourage the students to act as someone else and view specific situations from a different perspective rather than their own personal beliefs. This is known as taking on different roles (Calabrese, 2003, p. 607). When preparing to incorporate this type of play based learning, the classroom needs to have a specific area that encourages the children to engage with one another, collaborate ideas, and present them.
The teacher can provide a theme or story line for the children to generate scenarios off of. The sociodramatic play center will allow the children to read, write, listen, and speak (Calabrese, 2003, p. 607). This means that the children are stimulating multiple different thinking processes and practicing key components to development. The kids may write scripts and then use them to read aloud while presenting to their peers who are listening and observing. The children will take turns doing this is small groups or even as a whole class in some cases.
Sociodramatic play is a very different learning approach than direct instruction. Calabrese (2003) says, “Since play, which is child-centered, is a preferred activity for most children, motivation tends to be higher than with more teacher directed activity” (p. 607). The children are being asked to complete a task in which they are interested in and have fun completing. They think they are simply playing because the skills are embedded in the activity which makes this type of learning very effective and favored by the students as well as the teachers.
Similar to the outdoor environment, sociodramatic play is yet another opportunity for the children to distinguish the difference of make believe and reality (Calabrese, 2003, p. 607). It incorporates the two which is good exposure for the kids because it enhances their imagination while also developing real life problem solving skills. In conclusion, play based learning has had and will continue to have positive outcomes on developing children. The many different types of play and components that can be shifted around, provide a variety of beneficial experiences for the kids.
They are enjoying this learning process and are unaware of the impact this will have on their current and future lives. It is very difficult to find one method of instruction that hits all of the developmental goals but play based learning touches on social, emotion, cognitive and even physical. This method of teaching is a perfect match for adolescents because of the timing in which they are obtaining symbolic thinking processes. Play based learning is a successful strategy that prepares children for the future by embedding essential life skills.