Volume 31 Issue 4 25 Feb 2022 24 Adar I 5782


Terry Aizen – Director of Kornmehl

What is Play?

The Kornmehl Philosophy states the following about learning through play: 

We embrace and acknowledge that children come to the Kornmehl Pre-school with a richness of experiences. We believe that childhood is a time to be, to seek and make meaning of the world. We believe that children learn best through play. We see play as being the “heartbeat” of our Pre-school Program. Play provides opportunities for children to learn as they experiment, explore, discover, create, improvise and imagine. When children play with other children, they form relationships, test out ideas, challenge each other’s thinking, explore language and build new understandings and connections. Play provides a supportive environment where children can ask questions, solve problems and engage in critical thinking. In these ways play can promote positive dispositions towards learning.

Play is an active investigation and utilises creative expression. It helps to build resilience, problem-solving, language development and speech, communication, empathy, creativity and self-expression. Play is vital for acting out feelings, fears, ideas, experiences, and for self-expression. Children in play are learning the skills of life – to negotiate, take turns, share, express frustration in appropriate ways, to creatively explore their world in a safe early childhood environment. Play releases great hormones in the brain that help children to relax. It inspires and motivates children to keep on going. It is a natural aspect of children’s lives.

Children’s immersion in their play, illustrates how play enables them to simply enjoy being. There is a wealth of research available to support the positive impact of play on a child’s lifelong learning and well-being. Neurological research confirms that play is a powerful tool to support healthy brain development and cognitive function. Play allows children to be active leaders in their own learning and development. It takes shape in many forms and will look different in every context. 

Play-based learning is a key feature of quality early childhood programs and involves a range of sensory learning experiences that promote discovery, curiosity, creativity, exploration, interaction, learning and development. A play-based learning approach also fosters children’s critical skills, understanding and dispositions which are essential to their successful learning and development.  

Children are intrinsically motivated by play and play nurtures a positive attitude towards learning. Through play children develop connections, build relationships and make meaning of the world around them.

What does a play-based approach to learning look like?

Educators encourage children’s learning through play by:

  • providing resources that reflect children’s ages, interests, knowledge, strengths, abilities and culture to stimulate and support play. Resources which allow open ended use of items e.g. loose parts, boxes and crates
  • planning play experiences based on the assessment of children’s individual differences, interests, developmental needs and ability. For example, as a child learns to hold a pencil to draw and write, educators will give children different sized objects to grasp, and to build strength in the child’s fingers
  • observing children as they play so that they can understand how they play with other children, what skills and understanding they demonstrate in play and what activities can strengthen their skills in play
  • joining in children’s play to extend the child’s learning and to model skills such as reasoning, appropriate language, and positive behaviours
  • providing large blocks of unhurried and uninterrupted time for play for children’s ideas and games to develop