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Understanding the Benefits of Play-Based Learning in Preschool Education

PUBLISHED

03 June 2024

Little Girl Having Fun To Play With The Rain

In early childhood development, children naturally engage in play to explore, make sense of the world, and develop foundational skills across various domains. It is within these moments of learning through play that young minds embark on a journey of acquiring knowledge and holistic growth.

That is why many of the best preschools in Singapore adopt a play-based learning approach, focusing on encouraging active engagement and creating meaningful experiences for a child’s development. 

Contemplating the decision to enrol your child in preschool to play? Keep reading to explore the benefits of play in education, where every giggling moment becomes a stepping stone towards a brighter future.

Understanding Play-Based Learning

Two Girls Playing In The Studio

At the heart of this approach is the concept of purposeful play, an approach that aspires to achieve two key objectives. Firstly, it aims to ensure that play experiences are not only enjoyable but also infused with meaning, providing a wide range of learning opportunities. Secondly, purposeful play focuses on extending children’s learning and development, aligning with predefined educational goals. 

Purposeful play encompasses a spectrum, ranging from spontaneous and child-directed to more structured and teacher-directed experiences. In the preschool setting, this manifests in two distinct forms: child- and teacher-directed play or teacher-directed play. In the former, children take the lead in initiating play, while teachers act as facilitators, guiding the experience through thoughtful questions and prompts. The latter is a practice embraced at NTUC First Campus’s preschools, such as My First Skool and Little Skool-House, where teachers enhance children’s learning through hands-on games and activities during lessons.

Benefits of Play in Education

1. Active Engagement in Learning

When children play, they are not passive recipients but rather active participants, immersing themselves in hands-on experiences that stimulate their cognitive and physical abilities. This can foster the generation of creative ideas, stimulate critical thinking by posing challenges, encourage problem-solving skills, inquire about the play scenario, or simply provide enthusiastic support as a cheerleader on the sidelines. For instance, when a teacher asks a child to describe the Lego bricks he/she has built, it becomes an opportunity for him/her to use descriptive language for an impromptu show-and-tell session. 

2. Meaningful Learning Experiences

Whether it is solving puzzles, building structures, or engaging in imaginative scenarios, children grasp concepts in a way that resonates with them. These experiences go beyond rote memorisation, helping children retain information and the skills gained to apply in real-life situations. In fact, research indicates that children subjected to excessive didactic teaching earned lower grades compared to their counterparts who experienced greater opportunities for play-based learning. At My First Skool, we foster meaningful learning experiences for children that extend beyond mere memorisation. Through interactive activities like puzzle-solving, building structures, and imaginative play, children immerse themselves in hands-on learning at the centres. This approach enables them to understand concepts deeply and retain information and skills that apply to real-life situations.

3. Social Interaction in Play

Through shared play experiences in preschool, children develop crucial social skills such as communication, cooperation, and teamwork. Negotiating roles, sharing resources, and resolving conflicts during play contribute to the development of strong interpersonal relationships, setting the stage for positive social interactions throughout their lives. As your child delves into exploring his/her surroundings and comprehending the functioning of things through play, he/she naturally emulates the roles of adults, acquiring interactive and social skills along the way.

4. Emotional Development

During play, a child not only learns about the world but also discovers the comforting presence of a reliable figure – a parent. This sense of security provides assurance in the face of new experiences and environments. However, in the preschool setting, the role of the trusted figure often shifts to the teacher. Recognising this, both My First Skool and Little Skool-House place a strong emphasis on cultivating trusting relationships with each child

Playful Minds, Endless Possibilities

Two-Girls-Playing-In-The-Studio.jpeg

At NTUC First Campus, we believe in the transformative power of play-based learning. Beyond My First Skool and Little Skool-House, our Outdoor School is also a testament to our dedication to creating an environment where playful minds thrive and every moment becomes an opportunity for growth. The multi-sensory camps amongst nature bring our young explorers through enjoyable, creative and adventurous learning journeys. 

Find out more about what we do here.

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