“It is a happy talent to know how to play” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
When it comes to learning, let’s not forget about fun – especially for kids.
Nowadays, kids are ‘scheduled’ – that is to say, they carry around the responsibilities of being in school. The more commitments and expectations they have to carry, the more their bodies and mind are affected – which can be overwhelming and manifests in the form behaviour issues, academically, stress or anxiety.
Why is it important for kids to learn through play?
Social play allows kids to be creative. They become more confident when experimenting and absorb lessons quicker. Play is not just something children like to do but something they need to do. It is important for their well-being. When left alone or with peers, kids instinctively organise their own little games and activities, launching into their imagination inventing stories and characters.
In our urbanised world, kids often spend more time indoors – with television, computers and video games. There’s growing evidence that children are more disconnected from the natural world, lacking knowledge of biodiversity and awareness of its importance. When exposed to nature, kids become more hands-on picking things up such as rocks, leaves, sticks or flowers, jumping in puddles, climbing rocks or swinging from trees. Nature provokes endless possibilities for play and imagination as kids wonder how to use the materials they picked up, what they are, what can they do with it, how do they feel and so on. The exposure can be as simple as going for a walk, hiking or playing in the yard. It encourage them to learn to observe, describe their observation and giving them opportunity to discover nature on their own.
Many studies have shown the benefits of kids playing and being one with nature. They show how play and nature enables children to gain an abilities that help them learn and engage with others, becoming more cooperative. This is a form of exercise for children minds and their creativity. Play prepares kids for how to work together and, at the same time, how to be alone. It teaches how to be human.
Having the right balance between work and play is essential. Initially, play is the method and learning is the outcome. While adults may think that play is just a waste of time, it’s an opportunity for kids to learn and demonstrate what they’ve learned. These social competencies get transferred to children’s everyday behaviour.