Learning through exploration

Young children actively explore their environment and the world around them through a process of learning-based play – for example, manipulating objects, acting out roles, and experimenting with various materials. Play is a vehicle for learning. It provides opportunities for learning in a context in which children are at their most receptive. Play and work are not distinct categories for young children, and learning and doing are also inextricably linked for them. It has long been 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 skills. Play, therefore, has a legitimate and important role in play school and can be used to further children’s learning in all areas of the preschool program.

Current brain research confirms that opportunities for children to learn through play impel the development of multiple sensing pathways in the brain. Our preschool program that is designed with planned opportunities for learning-based play offers sensory stimulation that the child absorbs and assimilates into core brain development.

Through learning-based play, children represent their knowledge and understanding of the world and apply new learning that they are acquiring. Play provides a meaningful context for children’s language development. In the context of play, children can learn the meaning of words that are confusing, hear new words, and use words in both new and familiar ways.

Children should have many opportunities to explore materials and make decisions with the support of an adult who knows how and when to intervene. Children also need opportunities to engage with their peers in play activities of their own devising, through which they can express themselves and explore things of special interest to them. It is important that teachers assess what and how children learn through play by observing, documenting, and analysing their observations of children’s play. By using their observations, teachers stimulate children to create, solve problems, and think critically.

Teachers plans activities that help children achieve the learning expectations, and make changes to activities and materials on the basis of their assessments, need and interests of the children. Teachers also monitor play activities carefully and remain available to assist with or extend the activities as appropriate.