When adults think of the word “play”, they might picture general silliness and maybe children twirling around mindlessly in circles. But play is actually a key learning tool for children. And at our Richmond school, we use play-based learning quite seriously to keep kids engaged in their education. It is a core focus of our curriculum. Kids need to move to keep focused. And what they’re learning soaks in more when they learn it through play.
Play stimulates cognitive development
Children do a lot of problem solving through play. It might be figuring out the best way to build a tower. It might be figuring out how to work with someone else to make a pretend meal. They are fostering creativity by using their imaginations. They are learning about emotions through role-playing, which helps them in social situations. They learn to communicate through play with others. And they learn critical thinking skills. Play-based learning at our Richmond school is not overlooked when we are trying to keep a child engaged!
We bring the classroom outside
Many public schools have cut down recess time. This is a big tragedy. We are doing the opposite. We try to bring our kids outside as much as possible – at least an hour and a half each day. They are outside for recess. They eat lunch outside. And many times we hold class outside.
We have an outdoor learning natural habitat
Our natural outdoor habitat has various centers located throughout the playground. These encourage a child’s need to play – while learning at the same time. Our Richmond school's outside learning area has a vertical Lego fence. This presents different challenges than the usual way kids build Legos horizontally. There is a sensory table where they can manipulate sand. There is a center where they can conduct experiments. There is a dramatic area where kids can dress up and perform on a stage. We change out our centers on a regular basis to keep the kids engaged. And we encourage our students to try something – even if it makes them uncomfortable – just try it out, see how it feels!