Have you discovered play based learning? Learning through play is a powerful concept that has changed how we homeschool for the better. I’m excited to share our favorite play based learning benefits and the academic advantages of a play based learning curriculum with you.
The truth is that adopting a play based learning approach can be scary at first. However, it can certainly be filled with just as many academic advantages and educational moments as a more formal approach. I’ll show you how we do it and give you some great ideas for how to make it work in your homeschool this year.
Keep reading to discover my favorite play based learning activities, strategies, and resources. Plus, our play based learning curriculum built around interest-led unit studies, real-world experiences, and gameschooling. I just know your family is going to love this approach to homeschooling as much as we do!
What Is Play Based Learning?
A play based learning approach involves child-led learning with the support of the teacher or parent. With a play based learning curriculum, you’ll be encouraging your child to be curious and interact with objects, ideas, and the world around them in a variety of ways. Through their inquiry, they’ll learn about all kinds of things and progress naturally to higher levels of thinking and understanding.
Play is a powerful thing! As Maria Montessori famously said, “Play is the work of children.” It’s serious work for our children and once embraced, I think you’ll find that they not only learn well through play, but they retain the information and truths they discover so much better than they would just listening to a lecture or completing a worksheet.
During the preschool years, I found out that spending a day reading picture books, playing together, and making snacks together in the kitchen was a much easier way for Emily to learn all kinds of things and fostered a love of learning that we still share today.
The decision to let her be little and put off formal schooling in favor of play-based learning for preschool was difficult initially, but it has proved to be one of the best choices we made.
Over the years, we have discovered that play is the key to mastering challenging concepts for our daughter, Emily. For example, a year spent attempting to master math facts without success led to a summer of playing board games.
As Emily learned to master her dad’s favorite game, Yahtzee, she mastered her math facts. After that, I came to understand that playing games had great value in our homeschool and we adopted all kinds of gameschooling techniques in our homeschool too.
Can Play Based Learning Be As Educational As Formal Methods?
Yes, adopting a play based learning approach can be as educational as formal schooling. In fact, it might even be more educational! Play based learning curriculums involve children in the decision making process, encourage creativity, and require hands-on participation in a way that formal schooling methods often lack.
When kids are engaged and invested in what they’re learning, success is inevitable. That’s why experts like Suzanne Bouffard, a developmental psychologist, say play-based curriculum is just as effective if not more effective than formal methods. When it comes to younger children, it’s even more true!
For that reason, most preschool programs and kindergarten programs have adopted various aspects of the play-based learning approach in their classrooms. Since we homeschool, it’s easy for us to use play-based learning methods with our children in they early years and beyond. After all, the advantages of learning with real-world exploration and hands-on practice don’t fade as children grow.
The Academic Advantages Of Play Based Learning
So what exactly are the academic advantages of play based learning? There are many! Check some advantages of play based learning below.
There’s no better way to prepare our kids for reading and developing their language skills than by reading aloud to them from great books. Discover our favorite language arts picture books to help you choose some great new read alouds for your library this school year.
With a play based learning curriculum, you’ll get ample opportunities to enhance your child’s literacy and language development. Play based learning activities help kids learn new words and practice language skills as they interact through play. It’s a fantastic way to help kids connect oral and written words while learning new vocabulary and sentence structures.
Another fun play-based learning activity we’ve fallen in love with here at the Waldock Way that’s great for language development is letter writing. There are so many great ways to encourage letter writing in your homeschool. Beginning with writing thank you notes for birthday gifts is fun and easy for younger homeschoolers.
Then, check out some of our favorite letter subscription boxes like Letters from Afar, Writings from the Wild, and Polar Pen Pals. You can also adopt a pen pal or exchange a Flat Stanley with friends, family, or other homeschoolers around the world.
Social Emotional Development
In a play based learning environment, kids get the chance to explore, discover, and learn more about their own feelings and emotions. As kids experiment with feelings, they are learning tools to manage various emotions as they happen.
We can use a play based curriculum to help our children build these social emotional skills. Pretend play centers are a fantastic tool for helping young homeschoolers do this.
They allow kids to role play and learn more about the roles of various community heroes, career paths, and characters. For example, setting up a pretend vet’s office or grocery store would be filled with opportunities to learn about animals, body parts, medicine, counting money, and healthy foods.
Older children can explore these important skills through art projects, games, and experiments. A failed science experiment can teach kids a lot! Art projects and lessons help children learn about how art can effect our emotions and creating art can help us manage big emotions in a healthy way. These tools will help them to be more successful not just in academic settings but in the real world.
More Resources For Play Based Learning
Want to explore more play based learning options and resources? I’ve got some great resources for play based learning here at The Waldock way you can use to get started. Check out a few of our favorites below.
- Pretend Play Pack Bundle
- Purposeful Preschool: A Play Based Curriculum
- The Ultimate Guide to Strewing in Your Homeschool
- The Ultimate Guide To Games For Every Subject
There are so many more great ideas, games, activities, and fun resources to explore here at The Waldock way if you’re planning a play based approach to your homeschool this year. If you have ideas for play based learning or questions about getting started, please share in the comments. I would love to try some of your favorite ideas in our homeschool this year!