Pioneer Play School is a leading childcare center for the development and creativity of young minds. In the following article, Pioneer Play School discusses the many ways that childcare centers, like Pioneer, can help children follow educational curriculums while igniting the imagination.
While children learn naturally how to navigate the world through self-guided free play activities, recent study casts ever-increasing light on the benefits of play-based learning involving guided play activities.
Pioneer Play School explains that guided play, in which children retain some autonomy while still meeting educational goals set by an educator or other adult, helps children acquire basic academic knowledge while simultaneously fostering creativity, communication skills, and a natural appreciation for greater understanding of the world around them.
Although the benefits of play-based learning in general remain well-known to educators and daycare providers after decades of exhaustive investigation, It’s worth looking at guided play in particular and how to best incorporate it into a child’s regimen to achieve measurable results.
Defining Guided Play in Play-Based Learning
Pioneer Play School explains that unlike free play, in which children engage in fun and fulfilling activities determined solely by the limits of their own imagination, guided play follows a few more specific guidelines. Three primary elements define any proper example of guided play, including:
- An educational goal determined by an adult
- An activity designed to help children reach said goal
- Autonomy for children to play how they wish
For instance, Pioneer Play School explains that an adult may teach children about colors and shapes by setting up bingo cards with basic shapes of the three primary colors in each square. If the daycare facilitator calls out “purple triangle,” children can place a chip on any space with a red triangle or blue triangle until someone gets a bingo.
The goal in this game would be to teach basic shapes and color combinations to daycare students, and the activity grants them autonomy because they must successfully identify both the shapes and the primary colors in each combination to achieve a bingo. Adults may offer occasional guidance, but children still play the game themselves.
The Benefits of Play-Based Learning in Daycare
Play in general provides children with numerous core competencies vital to their development. Pioneer Play School explains that children learn to follow rules, to trust the adults who facilitate their playtime, and how to naturally integrate acquired information into their everyday lives. Many experts break these skillsets into a model known as the 6 Cs, which include:
- Collaboration – the ability to incorporate social engagement into play and learning
- Communication – proper use of language skills to both understand and relate with others
- Content – fundamental academic concepts such as math, language, humanities, science and the arts
- Critical Thinking – evaluating the quality of information received
- Creative Innovation – combining content knowledge and critical thinking to innovate or solve problems
- Confidence – perseverance to learn from mistakes and tackle the above skills with a growth mindset
While children may learn basic academic content from routine worksheets or exercises, the rest of the 6 Cs may easily fall by the wayside. Pioneer Play School says that by synchronizing play and learning, facilitators help children retain information in both greater quantity and quality by incorporating theory and application into a single fun activity.
Strategies for Synchronizing Play and Academics
Different guided play activities will teach the 6 Cs with varying success. Nonetheless, all well-designed guided play activities should offer enough educational value that daycare facilitators should rarely—if ever—feel forced to choose between play and learning as separate pursuits.
Pioneer Play School says that the key lies in recognizing an activity’s potential well enough to maximize its associated competencies. For instance, children participating in the previously mentioned bingo activity may choose to confer with their peers (Collaboration) but are not required to do so. They must only listen to the facilitator (Communication) and apply basic color combinations (Content).
Children who falsely call out bingo because they failed to understand the proper shapes or color combinations must reassess their knowledge (Critical Thinking) and try again in another round (Confidence). After the game’s conclusion, facilitators may provide a fingerpainting exercise to let children employ what they have learned (Creative Innovation).
Pioneer Play School explains that while two of the 6 Cs (Collaboration and Creative Innovation) only fit into this exercise with a bit of modification to the original idea, that’s the beauty of the system. Parents and educators have the freedom to adjust activities depending on which core competencies they wish to focus on the most.
Play-based learning allows children to engage with newly acquired knowledge in fun ways that speak to their level of understanding. Furthermore, modifying activities to accentuate various competencies within the 6 Cs allows facilitators to maximize the potential of various activities, fostering their own sense of creative innovation in the process.