Play-based Learning: everything old is new again.

As I type this I’m thinking back over the last couple of days of training. After training different groups of educators, I always feel I have learned more than the participants in the workshops.  I sort of liken this to being an educator in a play-based learning environment.  You can plan and prepare all you want, but it’s what happens when your “in amongst it” that counts.  When the learning goes in a new direction, as an educator we have choices…keep on plan, because it’s planned or go with the learning which means thinking on your feet!

Which option do you take?

I always go with the learner (being child or adult) because everyone’s needs are different and I think my role is to help a learner think and support them through their journey.

I have also been reflecting on some of the great discussions I’ve had with different people over the last 2 days.  I was talking with people who had been in education as long as or longer than I have.  We were remembering a time when everything was play-based and how as Early Childhood Teachers and Educators we fort hard for people to understand that children do not need “set activities” to learn all they need to set them up for future learning…it’s all there in the play and how children interact with their environment, you just have to look.

We also were talking about how play-based learning got lost somewhere along the way, early childhood became a time that children prepared for school and that was it.  Set activities with items produced so parents could see what was being done and what they were paying for happened.

I know that parents and communities can understand play-based learning, educators and children can re-learn the joy of learning that play-based and free-flow learning offers.  It just takes a little effort to show people what is IN the play and what educators can see and extend. And we now have all the government backing required as all the new docs support it.  Everything old is new again.

Yes, we must work with our communities and parents wishes, however we must also do what is educationally best for children.  It is sometimes is a hard line to balance, but I will always choose educationally sound practice…

Play.  Children were born to learn this way.  It just sometimes takes a little explaining how important it is.

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