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Learn about the importance of play-based learning for child development.

Why is play important?

Play is the work of children. Learning happens through play. Playing every day in the preschool years helps children do better in school and become resilient (external link).

Play builds healthy brains and bodies by giving children the chance to:

  • Develop thinking and language skills such as executive function, self-regulation and problem-solving
  • Be creative through pretend play
  • Develop reading and math skills
  • Build large and small muscles and improve coordination
  • Learn social skills such as taking turns, sharing, and cooperating
  • Learn about and develop friendships
  • Manage stress through active play
  • Feel good about themselves
  • Build a healthy relationship with you when you play together!

Playing Builds Brains

Tips for playing with a child

  • Create a safe place for a child to play
  • Have age-appropriate materials and activities
  • Use what you have at home for play. Old clothing saved for a ‘dress-up’ box or large cardboard boxes can provide hours of creative fun that does not cost a lot of money
  • Include play in everyday activities e.g. make a game out of sorting and matching socks or counting apples while grocery shopping
  • Let the child take the lead and build on their ideas
  • Give the child a chance to make the rules to feel independent and capable
  • Praise and encourage their ideas
  • Engage in role-play and make believe games
  • Describe their play e.g. “You put the yellow dog in the truck”
  • Praise quiet play so that this behaviour gets repeated in future
  • Remember to laugh and have fun everyday!

Play-based learning in school

You are your child's first teacher and you are the best person to help your child’s teacher understand their learning needs.

As the teachers get to know each child they will develop play-based ‘learning areas’ that reflect on their interests and abilities. Each ‘learning area’ will be developed so that children can:

  • Explore
  • Ask questions
  • Discover new things about themselves and their world
  • Develop important thinking skills

Remember: When children play, they are happy and ready to learn!