Play Based Learning: The Value of Learning By Doing

Play-based learning or learning through doing has gained significant traction over the past decade, but what exactly is it, and what is behind the groundswell of support from schools and parents?

Learning through play has emerged as a powerful and effective educational method in Australia, with research showing that it can lead to deeper learning, increased engagement, and better overall development for children from as young as a year old.

As parents, we want our kids to learn how the world works yet still give them space to do so at their own pace, especially in their early childhood years. It’s no wonder that a majority of Aussie parents see the value of play-based learning in their child’s education, with 93% of parents acknowledging the benefits of play and 72% indicating a preference for play-based learning in the first years of school.

In this article, we’ll outline what play-based learning entails, how it contributes to learning and development, and how you can get involved in it alongside your child.

Table of contents

  • What is play based learning?
  • Where did the learning through doing principle come from?
  • What is the value of play based learning?
  • How to support your child to learn through play
  • The growing support for play based learning in Australia

What is Play Based Learning?

Play-based learning is not so much a method as an educational approach that focuses on the understanding that children learn best when they are actively engaged and motivated, as well as providing children with opportunities to learn about the world around them, develop their imagination, and practice essential life skills through the act of play.

In a play-based learning environment, teachers take a back seat into a more supportive role rather than directing children. They encourage children to explore, experiment, and create using different materials. Some play based learning activities include:

  • Physical play: Running, jumping, and playing sports.
  • Sensory play: Exploring different textures, sounds, and smells.
  • Constructive play: Building things with blocks, LEGOs, or other materials.
  • Imaginative play: Using the imagination to create new worlds or stories.
types of play-based learning

Where Did the Learning Through Doing Principle Come From?

There have been many contributors to play based learning throughout the years, but most notably, Friedrich Froebel, a German teacher, saw the potential of play in child education in helping their development and founded the world’s first kindergarten. His kindergarten curriculum incorporated a variety of learning through doing activities, such as singing, dancing, and arts and crafts.

Today, play-based learning is used in schools and educational settings all over the world, alongside other effective principles such as intentional teaching. There has been an increasing recognition that play is an essential part of childhood development that offers many benefits to learning as well.

What is the Value of Play Based Learning?

Because play-based learning allows children to learn at their own pace and in their own way instead of following a rigid curriculum, it is a much more natural way of helping them develop their social-emotional, cognitive, and physical skills.

Supported by a growing body of research that recognises its value, learning through play confers many benefits that should not be overlooked:

Improved academic achievement

Being a hands-on and engaging approach to learning, play based learning allows children to apply what they are learning in real-world contexts, which in turn helps them to understand concepts more deeply. Research has shown that play-based learning can improve academic achievement in children of all ages.

Increased social and emotional skills

In contrast with traditional classroom settings, play-based learning activities give children the opportunity to interact with their peers and adults, helping them develop important social and emotional skills, such as cooperation, teamwork, and communication.

Greater engagement in learning

Children engage in play naturally, so making it a part of learning scenarios keeps them engaged and interested in what they are learning.

Enhanced creativity and imagination

Freedom of creativity is important for a child’s overall development. Play-based learning gives children a space to exercise their imagination and express themselves creatively.

Stronger problem-solving skills

Because children are constantly faced with challenges when playing, they have to learn how to solve these challenges to continue playing, allowing them to develop problem-solving skills.

Better physical development

The physical aspect of play-based learning helps children develop physically, exercising their motor skills and coordination.

play based learning benefits

How to Support your Child to Learn Through Play

The best news about learning through play is that it doesn’t have to be restricted to classrooms or schools. As a parent, you can get involved with your child’s learning by engaging in play activities with them, even at home.

When spending time with your child, try to actively play with them instead of leaving them to their devices. Take on an inquiry based learning approach to ask them questions or take on roles during play sessions to encourage them to use their imagination or expand on their ideas.

It might be tempting to correct them (like when they colour the sky purple), but try not to direct their play too much. Simply allow them to explore and learn at their own pace, and offer help if they encounter difficulties to create opportunities for teachable moments.

Last but not least, be patient and supportive with your child. Don’t be frustrated at their apparent lack of progress — each child learns in different ways and you should help them discover it while having fun together.

The Growing Support for Play Based Learning in Australia

Apart from the growing demand for more play-based learning centres from parents, the Australian Government is also providing additional funding to support quality preschool programs, such as the Early Years Learning Framework.

Under the National Quality Framework (NQF), the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) serves as a guideline for extending and enriching children’s learning from birth to five years and through their transition to school. It’s practised in childcare centres across Australia, and right here at Eikoh Seminar Australia.

Final Thoughts

Learning through doing is one of the best approaches in recent years for child development, providing an organic and holistic way for children to find their first steps in a safe and encouraging environment.

As childcare with a strong focus on play-based learning, our team of teachers and caretakers at Eikoh Seminar pays attention to the development and growth of each child that comes into our care. We set high standards for early education in Australia, implementing the principles and practices of the EYLF to achieve the best outcomes for your child.