Benefits of a play-based learning approach to education
By Andréa Basílio, Early Childhood Center Principal
The early years are crucial for children to start developing the primary cognitive, emotional, and social skills that will be essential throughout their lives. It is through curiosity and playing that they begin to understand people and the environment around them. With that in mind, a play-based approach to education has been discussed and adopted more frequently worldwide.
In play-based learning, children are seen as potent individuals and are encouraged to explore, interact and investigate, taking ownership of their discoveries. This approach also develops creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
As a fundamental part of the renowned IB PYP program (International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme), the Pan American School of Bahia (PASB), the only international school in Salvador, defends that one of the most significant advantages of a play-based approach is that it makes the learning process more meaningful for the children. Students in the Early Childhood Center and Elementary School benefit greatly from play-based learning strategies because they have the freedom to experiment, make mistakes and try again, develop their self-esteem and confidence, and collaborate while developing social, cognitive, and emotional skills.
At PASB, teachers are experts and encourage curiosity and learning by creating spaces, contexts, challenges, and meaningful games, favoring the engagement and enthusiasm of the children through investigation and discoveries. Playing together teaches them to share, collaborate, and communicate, developing self-control, empathy, and a solid emotional foundation, which is essential for children’s general well-being. Besides, it is an inclusive approach since it allows children to learn at their own paces, considering each one of them as an individual with singular learning styles and characteristics.
Play-based learning also offers benefits to PASB parents. As a parent association since its founding in the 60s by American families, family participation is one of the school’s core beliefs. With this approach, parents can be even more engaged in their children’s learning and development, collaborating with the school and better understanding their children’s needs and interests.
The importance of early childhood education has been proven through many human development theories. It is known that children develop better when they are engaged in fun and meaningful activities. Play-based earning exposes them to challenges and joyful learning contexts aligned with their individual needs.