The new Ministry of Education curriculum heavily emphasizes “Play to Learn” style in all licensed Day Care Centres and Kindergarten classrooms. But what exactly is “Play to Learn” and what are the benefits of it?

According to The Full-Day Early Learning- Kindergarten Program (2010-2011), “It has been long acknowledged that there is a strong link between play and learning for young children, especially in the areas of problem solving, language acquisition, literacy, numeracy, and social, physical, and emotional skills”. Play-based learning is learning through play. It is intentionally setting up a learning space where children can explore, engage and be curious all at the same time.

An example of this could be if blocks, straws and a toy drum were placed out, there would be no instructions from the childcare provider on what the child is expected to do. Rather, the provider would wait to see which the child chooses and let them decide what they are going to do with it. That child could go straight to the blocks and build a tower or they could use the straws and hit the toy drum with the straws. The provider’s job is to allow the child to direct the play and encourage them to learn more about their activity with intentional questions. That means, if the child was hitting the drum with the straw, the provider could ask “Does the drum make a big sound when you hit it with the straw? What happens when you hit it with a wooden stick?” In the simple act of “playing drums” that child is learning about sound creation.

A major aspect of play-based learning is that playing is “open-ended”. That means that the childcare provider is flexible and adapts to the child’s interests. This type of child care gives the child more independence and promotes learning while playing.

What makes play-based learning successful is providing an environment that helps a child decide what to play with. That means making activities accessible to the child and providing them with choices. In the home, this could mean having an “craft corner” that they could go up to and pull out some colouring supplies or a “math and science” cupboard with board games and a kids microscope or a dress up box with wigs, costumes and a script to a child’s play. There are endless options on how you can make your home into a learning environment for kids!

Playing comes naturally to all children and is a natural way for children to make sense of the world around them. When their child care provider is a facilitator, rather than a spectator, a child builds a solid foundation of skills in communication, decision making, social competence and even literacy and numeracy.

Contact us to learn more about play-based learning and how you can incorporate it into your Au Pair’s child care methods! Email: info@adanacaupair Phone: 647-332-2477