Play-based learning provides a great framework for teachers to transform an early childhood education into a more meaningful experience. CIS primary vice principal and PYP coordinator Tonia Whyte Potter-Mal shares why.
When it comes to play-based learning, some might think that it’s an open-ended and student-led activity without structure or planned learning outcomes. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. According to CIS primary vice principal and PYP coordinator Tonia Whyte Potter-Mal, purposeful play is actually an effective learning tool for children aged three to five. It sets the foundation for self-confidence, critical thinking, problem solving and creativity, as well as resilience to face personal challenges at later stages of their lives. Tonia shares three more reasons why young children learn best through purposeful play.
3 reasons why purposeful play is the best way to learn in kindergarten
1. Purposeful play prepares students for more complex academic learning
What exactly is purposeful play? At CIS, it’s a teacher-initiated activity that is carefully planned and guided by adults to achieve specific learning outcomes with children. It introduces an inquiry-based approach that engages them in a critical thinking process, and nurtures a strong conceptual understanding of topics ranging from math to literacy.
“An example of how we develop fine motor skills, coordination and an understanding of literacy through purposeful play can be found in a game called ‘Mat Man’, where children copy shapes of the alphabet to recreate the form of a human body. This may seem like a simple activity, but they are learning how to write, formulate letters, and exercise their imagination in their own way.”
2. It introduces real world applications at the same time
Here’s a tip for parents who want their children to grow into lifelong learners: it all starts with cultivating the confidence to establish a positive sense of identity, a passion for learning, and a desire to participate responsibly in their immediate communities and beyond.
“Voice, choice and ownership of learning begins in the early years, and purposeful play sets up an environment where children are expected to make some of their own choices that reflect real world experiences. This could involve teachers mapping an activity that requires children to investigate topics set in an outdoor environment, such as our Outdoor Discovery Centre.
When they learn about ecosystems through purposeful play in nature, they explore how the natural world works in authentic ways. Their thinking processes extend well beyond gaining knowledge and learning facts about living species, to include big scientific ideas such as interdependence, energy, and the impact of environmental conditions and sustainability. Learning tasks that integrate these multiple disciplines strengthens a child’s conceptual understanding and allows them to transfer their knowledge to meaningful situations.”
3. It also nurtures budding thinkers, artists and researchers
What do famous thinkers and creators like Marie Curie, Albert Einstein and Frida Kahlo have in common? They are all passionately curious!
“Our kindergarten students put on their “detective hats” in an outdoor ‘community market’ activity. With teacher guidance and through trial and error, students excitedly set up the community market with different textured materials such as seeds, sticks, rocks, shells, leaves, blades of grass and other materials. They have flexible opportunities to observe, touch, smell, borrow and exchange items at the market by counting, sorting and grouping different materials.
The teacher facilitates an extension to subject based learning by encouraging students to use different social skills (taking turns, discussion, negotiation, listening, role play) as they investigate the texture, shape, size, weight and other features of these items. The teacher then asks the students to make connections of these observations to their lives outside of school.
It’s a great example of how the remarkable benefits of play-based learning establishes an excellent foundation for personal awareness, social development and academic growth.”
Experience the benefits of purposeful play at CIS Kindergarten Open House
Bring your child along for a morning of fun education activities at CIS’s Kindergarten Open Houses on 11 and 12 November (9-10am), and experience firsthand the benefits of purposeful play.
When: 11 November (Lakeside) and 12 November (Tanjong Katong), 9am-10am
Where: CIS Lakeside and Tanjong Katong Campuses
Parents who have questions about CIS’s inquiry-based and purposeful play approach can speak to any of the school’s principals and teachers, and join a guided tour to see how the school’s facilities are designed to provide a safe and nurturing environment for learning. Sign up now!
This post is in partnership with CIS