All Hallow's Blog

The Power of Play: Benefits of Play-Based Learning and Parental Engagement

15th January 2024

During early childhood education, play is not just a frivolous pastime; it is a powerful tool for learning and development. Play-based learning has gained prominence as a pedagogical approach that recognises the innate curiosity and creativity of children. In this blog post, we delve into the benefits of play-based learning and emphasise the crucial role parental engagement plays in enhancing these educational experiences. Let’s explore how the simple act of playing can be a transformative force in shaping a child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Understanding Play-Based Learning

Play-based learning embraces the idea that children learn best when they are actively engaged in play. This method recognises that play is not just a break from learning but rather, a fundamental way in which children make sense of the world around them. Some of the benefits include:

Promoting cognitive development by encouraging problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking. Through activities like building blocks, sorting shapes, and engaging in imaginative play, children naturally develop their cognitive abilities.

Enhances social skills by learning to collaborate, negotiate, and communicate effectively with their peers. These social interactions lay the foundation for healthy relationship-building, empathy, and teamwork.

Developing emotional intelligence by allowing children to express and understand their emotions. Whether it’s role-playing, storytelling, or engaging in dramatic play, children learn to navigate and regulate their feelings, contributing to the development of emotional intelligence.

Benefits of Parental Engagement in Play-Based Learning

While play-based learning is often associated with early childhood education settings, the involvement of parents is equally crucial. Parental engagement strengthens the parent-child bond and amplifies the educational benefits of play.

Engaging in play with your child provides quality bonding time. Playing board games, participating in arts and crafts, or exploring the outdoors together are shared experiences that create lasting memories and strengthen the parent-child relationship.

Parents can extend the learning that occurs during play by asking open-ended questions, introducing new vocabulary, or incorporating educational elements into play activities. For example, turning a simple game of building blocks into a counting or colour recognition exercise.

Through play, parents can gain valuable insights into their child’s preferences, interests, and developmental milestones. Observing how a child approaches challenges or interacts with others during play provides valuable information for supporting their growth and learning.

When parents actively participate in play-based activities, they send a powerful message that learning is enjoyable and worth investing time in. This positive association with learning sets the stage for a child’s lifelong curiosity and love for acquiring knowledge.

Practical Tips for Parental Engagement in Play-Based Learning

Now that we understand the importance of parental engagement in play-based learning, let’s explore some practical tips to make the most of these interactive moments.

Designate a space in your home for play that is free from technology. This can be a corner for arts and crafts, a reading nook, or a play area with age-appropriate toys.

Allow your child to take the lead during play, follow their interests and let the play evolve naturally. This gives them a sense of autonomy and independence.

Introduce educational elements into play without making it feel like a lesson. For instance, use cooking or baking activities to teach measurements or turn a nature walk into a lesson about plants and animals.

Put away your mobile phone and electronic devices and be fully present during playtime. Engage in meaningful conversations, ask questions, and show genuine interest in your child’s creations and ideas.

How All Hallows Incorporates Play In Learning

At All Hallows School, the incorporation of play-based learning is a cornerstone of our approach in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), specifically in our Nursery and Reception classes. Our EYFS classrooms provide a dedicated indoor and outdoor space, for a happy, calm, and secure environment that is also engaging and enjoyable.

With small class sizes, we prioritise individualised attention to support each child’s early learning needs, allowing them to thrive. Our children benefit from unique opportunities, accessing specialist teaching staff for subjects such as Music, Art, Forest School, Sports, and various activities, and our extensive resources enrich their learning experiences.

Central to our EYFS curriculum is each child’s personal, social, and emotional development, physical growth, and communication and language skills. Recognising the uniqueness of each child, our teaching approach revolves around a play-based curriculum, guided by the children’s interests. This child-initiated play is complemented by adult-led activities, leveraging specialist expertise, ensuring holistic development and optimal outcomes.

Our Final Thoughts

The power of play in a child’s development cannot be overstated. Play-based learning provides a foundation for cognitive, social, and emotional growth. When coupled with parental engagement, the benefits are amplified, creating a rich tapestry of learning experiences. As parents, embracing the importance of play and actively participating in these moments not only nurtures a child’s development but also creates cherished memories that last a lifetime. So, let’s celebrate the power of play and the profound impact it has on shaping the minds and hearts of our children. To find out more about how play is incorporated into the All Hallows experience, get in touch or book one of our open days.