An occasional paper by Dr William Lockitt
The paper is aimed at raising awareness to the importance of play in education and highlight some of the current research available. It is hoped that teachers, parents, home educators and others interested in developing play activities will find it useful. Use the links at the end of the paper to join in the discussion.
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Play as an activity for learning is often dismissed as an active part of the learning process. If you ask a child how they learned to do something such as use a mobile phone, record their favourite programme or play on their games machine most children would be unable to tell you. If you dig a little deeper and ask them if someone taught them to do it most children will say no. So how did they learn how to do it?
Children are really good at observation, imitation and play. They see something they want to do and then experiment through playing with it until they get the desired outcome.
What can play achieve:
- Play activities can prepare children to cope with scenarios the will encounter in ‘real life’;
- Roll play can help children to develop strategies they can use to make friends or build relationships in the future;
- Abstract concepts can be developed and refined without the fear of making mistakes;
- Children learn to be responsible for their actions and can practice modifying their behaviour until the desired outcome is achieved;
- Positive feedback from adults and peers can reinforce behaviour;
- Play can be spontaneous or planned but given the right conditions and resources all forms of play can stimulate a child’s imagination and creativity.