The Importance of Play-Based Education

The Importance of Play-Based Education


Play is play and work is work, right? Well, not to a child in a learning environment. A play-based education, both inside and outside, is crucial when you’re talking about young minds. A child at play is a child learning – in all areas of development. It enhances children’s physical, social, emotional, and creative growth. Consider this:

Playing alone teaches children how to think for themselves. It teaches them how to figure out what they like to do. It fosters their imagination. Play is the primary way children explore their world.

Playing with others teaches children how to communicate, collaborate, and solve problems. Playing stimulates children’s cognitive development and ,if used properly, it can be useful in supporting the development in science, math, language, and literacy skills. Think about children using building blocks. Have you ever watched them try to build a tower together? One may learn faster than another what happens when certain blocks are stacked on one another, leading them to fall and, “Hey – let’s try these blocks instead!” Another child may have figured out that building blocks on carpet just doesn’t work. “Let’s move them to the tile floor!” They teach each other.

Consider this study of third graders done by a University of Chicago researcher. He posed a math problem to two groups. One group physically acted out the math problem (feeding 7 fish to 2 hippos each and 4 fish to 2 alligators each), while the other group just added up the numbers. Guess who got the answer correct more often? The group who acted out feeding 7 fish to 1 hippo, then 7 fish to the other hippo, then 4 fish to 1 alligator, then 4 fish to the other alligator. Children absorbed the information more when they used their bodies along with their minds. It felt like play to them, but they were learning at the same time. (The answer is 22 – and the group that did not act it out often got 11).

Through play, children actively pose problems, explore solutions, and develop understandings of real world concepts. By comparing and contrasting information gained from each new experience to what they already know, they are actively constructing their knowledge of the way the world works.

Play-based education is a hallmark of a child’s healthy development, and we don’t take it lightly! Contact me at if you’re ready to tour Shady Oak Primary School.