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Play-Based Learning and Why It Works

Play is one of the most important ways in which young children gain essential knowledge and skills. Play-based learning is a type of early childhood education based on child-led and open-ended play, where children have ample time to explore and discover during play. Here is play-based learning and why it works.

The Elements of Play-Based Learning

Play-based learning includes the following elements:

  • Self-chosen: A child voluntarily chooses to play, how they’ll play, and for how long.
  •  Enjoyable: Play is enjoyable for the child.
  •  Unstructured: A child has ample time to explore and discover during play.
  • Process-oriented: There is no end or learning goal.
  • Make belief: Play often involves imagination, ‘make believe’, or ‘playing pretend’.

The Benefits

Play-based learning supports children’s development across domains and content areas and increases learning relative to more didactic methods. It also promotes children’s choice, wonder, enthusiasm, and joy for learning. Some of the benefits of play-based learning are :

  • The fostering of creativity, curiosity, and problem-solving skills.
  • Social and emotional skills, such as cooperation, communication, empathy, and self-regulation.
  • The supports language and literacy development, such as vocabulary, comprehension, and storytelling.
  • It builds cognitive skills, such as numeracy, logic, and spatial awareness.
  •  It develops physical skills, such as fine and gross motor coordination, balance, and strength.

Decision Making

Child-initiated learning is an essential part of play-based learning. It involves children making decisions about what they want to do, where, with whom, and what resources they will need. Child-initiated learning requires the adult to carefully plan the environment, think about and organize the resources that will be available to the children, and plan the session so children have sufficient time to become immersed in their play. Child-initiated learning also requires the adult to support children’s play by scaffolding, extending, and modeling learning. The adult can also help children reflect on their play by encouraging them to talk about what they have done, whether they have discovered something new, improved upon a skill, or just enjoyed playing with a friend.

A Powerful Teaching Tool

Child-initiated learning is a powerful teaching tool that respects children as autonomous and competent learners. It allows children to learn at their own pace and follow their own interests. It also motivates children to learn by giving them appropriate challenges and choices. Children can develop a positive attitude towards learning that will last throughout their lives.

What Our Daycare Offers

Daycares that use play-initiated learning for preschoolers to provide them with rich and meaningful learning experiences that support their holistic development. Play-initiated learning is fun and effective education. At Triangle Learning Center, we offer children the opportunity to play their way to a love for learning. Along with the Abeka curriculum we believe creativity leads the way to education.


The Power of Playful Learning in the Early Childhood Setting | NAEYChttps://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/summer2022/power-playful-learning

Child Initiated Learning – Teaching Expertise https://www.teachingexpertise.com/articles/child-initiated-learning/

What is play-based learning? | Wonderschool Resources Hub https://www.wonderschool.com/p/parent-resources/what-is-play-based-learning/

Learning through play – UNICEF https://www.unicef.org/sites/default/files/2018-12/UNICEF-Lego-Foundation-Learning-through-Play.pdf

Child-Centred Curriculum Planning (0-5 years) – ACECQA