Play based learning is a concept that has been adopted by many preschools and kindergartens around the world. The theory is that allowing young children to learn through playing gives them many advantages and skills that they can use to build on their foundation of future learning. It allows kids to think creatively, to learn concepts at their own speed and to self regulate, explore, think creatively and actively problem solve. It also serves as the basis for literacy, math and language acquisition.
So what then, does a preschool or kindergarten need in order to operate the play based learning ideal? Today a lot of people think handing a young child a smart phone or a tablet is ‘play based learning’ but of course it isn’t. Yes, young children should be given the time to work with technology, but that’s only part of the bigger picture.
Blocks of different sizes and made out of different materials are a staple in the classroom. They allow children to build and configure things while learning problem solving skills and social graces. Table toys and things that can be manipulated are another great addition to the classroom. They allow kids to use their imaginations and create things on their own.
Of course plenty of art materials should be on hand, they allow creativity and imagination to run wild, as do materials that pertain to music and movement. Sand and water tables are fantastic sensory play areas and children should also be given the opportunity to have cooking experiences.
A library and a quiet area are also wonderful additions to the play based learning room. They allow for children to tackle literacy skills and also allow for a quiet place to reflect, wonder and rest.
No play based learning room would be complete without an outdoor space for kids to explore and develop their gross motor skills. Outdoor time each day is part of the program and allows kids to be creative with play during all seasons.
Language resources, literature, writing tools and paint stations are also all great additions to the room as they foster creativity and experimentation.
Preschools and kindergarten classrooms are the first chance a child has to learn in a structured environment and what they learn there will carry them through the school years. A strong foundation early on only fosters a love for learning and an interest in the world around them.