Have you ever noticed that when you are having fun you’re relaxed, you’re open to trying new things and you seem to remember so much? Play is a fantastic way to promote a positive mindset that is more receptive to learning and retention of information. Because of this, I have made it a goal to ignite a passion for learning through play in our school.
Often people think of play as only being important for young children, but play is important for all ages. Just because a child is a little older, doesn’t mean the play time should stop, in fact I believe play becomes even more important, even for adults. It just might change the way it looks.
Play is defined as an activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation.
Play is fun, laughter, joy. It is about happiness and being in the moment. We all need more play in our lives!
Through play we are able to ignite curiosity and encourage engagement. When children are having fun, they are more relaxed and open. Anxiety lessens, which is a huge thing for my children and many others. By lessening the anxiety, my children are able to focus and be open to learning. They will also have much greater retention.
So how do I ignite a passion for learning through play?
1 – Set up a tinker zone – I love having a section in our school room that is only about exploring and playing. I change things around to keep it interesting and the kids are encouraged to use the area as much as they want. I also make sure that I spend time in there playing and tinkering. The kids love to see what I create and it helps inspire them to tinker and play more.
2 – Play board games – There are so many games out there that offer a great educational component, children can learn without ever realizing it. Just the process of playing a game teaches a lot of skills.
3 – Get moving – Lots of kids learn better when moving. Make up games and challenges, or better yet let them create the games and challenges. Even when you are playing board games, let them wriggle, wiggle and move.
4 – Get interactive! – Instead of just watching a demonstration, get the kids involved. Nothing kills the fun faster than sitting on the sidelines. Play is best when everyone gets to play! Remember:
Kids retain 10% of what they hear.
They retain 30% of what they hear and see.
They retain 40% of what they hear, see and say.
They retain 70% of what they hear, see say and DO! (Butkus, 2008)
5 – Be silly – My son once said, Mom if I can’t be silly, I can’t be myself. Cheeky, but wise words from my little man. And he’s right. It’s important to relax and not take everything so seriously. A little silly helps the serious time go by much faster!
6 – Don’t underestimate video games – Playing video games can be a fantastic way to learn hand-eye coordination, puzzle solving, plus many other skills. Some games are even designed specifically for learning. There are a few places that even use the Minecraft world to offer lessons in everything from math and science to novel studies.
7 – Tell jokes – Laughter is a fantastic way to promote retention and calm anxious feelings.
8 – Have fun! Whatever that means, however that looks, make sure everyone is having fun and the learning will come naturally. We have a lot of fun with our science and math curriculum. Our math one in particular is designed as a comic book, but it’s hard, really, really hard. Much harder than the other curriculum options we have used. For the first time ever though, my son is enjoying math and relishing the challenges. Presenting it in a fun way changed everything and ignited his passion for learning.
When kids are playing, laughing and having fun their focus increases, anxiety decreases, and passions are ignited. So incorporate a little play into our day and watch the learning happen!
Check out more great posts about the important of play with the Play Matters Blog Hop