Learning through Play

As a part of Early Learning Matters Week 2022 we are focussing on learning through play.

Play is how children learn and develop, through exploration, imagination and problem solving, and brings pleasure and interest.

High-quality, play-based education and care supports young children to learn and thrive.

Learning through play — social and emotional development 

Dramatic and imaginative play which includes dressing up and role play can develop positive social and emotional skills and values. This provides opportunities for children to:

  • practise how to work with other children, negotiate ideas, and make choices and decisions
  • develop self-confidence by experiencing success and challenges
  • learn to control their emotions, reduce impulsive behaviour, or reduce stress as they act out feelings and events that might be worrying them
  •  develop empathy and fairness as they learn to play alongside and with other children

To find out more visit the Raising Children website.

Super Hero child - social and emotional development

Learning through play — cognitive development 

When children play individually and with others, their cognitive skills, such as thinking, remembering, learning and paying attention are all being developed. Children develop the following cognitive skills through play:

  • problem solving
  • the power of imagination and creativity
  • concepts such as shapes, colours, measurement, counting and letter recognition
  • strengths such as concentration, persistence and resilience

To find out more visit the Raising Children website.

children looking through a telescope - cognitive development

Learning through play — literacy and numeracy development

Play requires thinking, language, interactions, curiosity and exploration. Through play children develop skills and understandings including:

  • an increased understanding of words and their use
  • listening and speaking skills
  • writing skills through scribbling, painting and drawing
  • learning how stories work (plot, characters, structure, purpose and format of words on a page)
  • learning that objects can stand for something else (a block can be a symbol for a telephone) which is foundation learning for formal reading, spelling and numeracy because letters, words or numerals are part of symbol systems
  • learning that letters, words, symbols, numerals and signs have a purpose and are meaningful to others

To find out more visit the Raising Children website.

children reading a book - literacy and numeracy development

Learning through play — physical development 

Active play uses large and small muscles and includes activities such as climbing, running, ball games, digging, jumping, and dancing.

This supports children’s overall health and sense of wellbeing, physical growth, appreciation for the benefits of active lifestyles and skills for independence in self-help such as dressing or feeding.

To find out more visit the Raising Children website.

Children on a slide - physical development