On November 18, 2016, early years classroom teachers facilitated an information session on play-based learning for parents at BINUS School Simprug in Jakarta. It was an informative and engaging session. The teachers shared their knowledge and experience in teaching children using the play-based approach.
At the beginning of the session, parents were asked to recall and share an early memory about learning through play. It was interesting to know that some of the parents who are from different countries played similar activities such as hopscotch, jumping with rubber-band rope, hide and seek, role playing and jackstones. They also used native materials or instruments due to limited resources or creativity. Parents came up on inventing games without the need for anything but themselves. Many of the traditional games shared by parents appeal to a broad age and don’t require much equipment.
In this session, the definition of play was emphasized as any activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation, especially for children. It was pointed out that play without enjoyment is not play. Children do not necessarily need expensive toys to enjoy playing. It is even encouraged for the children to explore their surroundings and materials when playing. In that way, they will be more creative and spontaneous.
As adults, it is important to interact and observe the children when they play so that we will be more aware of their interest and to have a better understanding of our children, including how they think and behave. It is through play that children learn or acquire information, develop physically and socially and express themselves confidently. German educator Friedrich Froebel stressed that “play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.”
The poem, “The Hundred Languages of Children” by Loris Malaguzzi beautifully conveys the important roles imagination and discovery play in early childhood learning. The poem points out that “the child is made of one hundred. The child has a hundred languages, a hundred hands, a hundred thoughts, a hundred ways of thinking, playing, of speaking. A hundred always a hundred…”
The hundred languages are the endless number of children’s potentials, their ability to wonder and inspire. The poem reminds us that there are multiple ways of seeing and multiple ways of being. As adults (parents and teachers), we should not hinder them but support them instead.
The “Not a Box” story also captures children’s imaginations at play and how boxes or other objects can become anything. It brought back a particular memory of the box I took from my mother’s kitchen. I used it to become the flooring of our toy house, which was made of banana and coconut leaves. I had fun playing in my house with my siblings and friends and until now I still recall how we helped each other in building it.
According to Sir Ken Robinson, who is an expert on learning and children’s education, “imagination is the source of all human achievement.” Imagination is essential in the learning process and can advance cognitive development. Young children often learn about events, cultures or people that they will never meet, and imaginative play is a way for them to discover the world that surrounds them and collect experiences. Through imaginative play, children are more likely to adapt learning habits and to develop their communication skills.
Children learn important skills through play such as solving problems, thinking creatively and critically, and interacting with others. There is also a link between PLAY and foundational skills and complex cognitive activities.
After the sharing session, our Early Years parents realized the importance of play in their children’s development and their roles as parents in supporting them as they play.
By: Lea S. Carbonell
Early Years Class Teacher and Level Head
BINUS SCHOOL Simprug