The importance of learning through play
Just like a child’s imagination, the benefits of ‘play’ in a child’s development are limitless. Indeed, its value is such that United Nations recognises ‘play’ as a fundamental Human Right for every child.
But why is learning through play so vital to your child’s growth; and how can you improve it at home and at school?
To find out, we spoke to the renowned Zanna Clark, Head of Early Years at Eaton Square Schools and Nurseries. With impressive nurseries based across Knightsbridge, Belgravia and Pimlico, this prestigious group of schools has been nurturing happy, healthy children in prime central London for over 40 years. Unsurprisingly, it is consistently rated ‘Excellent’ in national ISI reports and Tatler describes Eaton Square’s pupils quite simply as ‘loving life’.
Eaton Square Schools shares Dragons of Walton Street’s passion for inspiring childhood dreams – and is committed to unlocking the benefits of this for every child through play.
Read on to find out more…
Why is learning through play so important?
Zanna: Put simply, ‘play’ is how children learn. It requires creativity, initiative and imagination – all of which are vital for developing independence, and importantly – independent thought. Adults often think that learning is just about sitting at school, at your desk, being told how to read, write and absorb knowledge. This is in part true; but fundamental skills are required before this – from fine motor skills to an understanding of space and time. Play activates the imagination; the imagination in turn teaches you to learn to think.
What are the main benefits of play in my child’s life?
Zanna: The benefits are both immediate and long-lasting. From encouraging healthy brain development and practicing motor skills, to processing and understanding the world around them, the cognitive, emotional and physical benefits of play are immense – and well documented by research. These benefits also help form the foundation of essential life skills, such as relationship-building and stress management. Since many of our Eaton Square nursery children go on to study at our Prep and then Senior School, it’s wonderful to see how play contributes to their ongoing achievements.
What are the best forms of ‘play’ for my child?
Zanna: There are so many and so many variables! However, anything that encourages your child’s creativity will boost their learning. At Eaton Square Schools, creativity underpins much of what we do – from the design of our nursery environment to the activities the children engage in. In the Early Years, creativity isn’t just about artwork and music. Instead, every topic should be creative and expressive. Children should be excited about learning!
How can parents encourage learning through play at home?
Zanna: Above all, just as we do at Eaton Square Schools, providing children with the tools to unlock their creativity can give them a great head start.
Here are Zanna’s Top 3 Tips to encourage learning through play from home…
It’s tempting to swamp your child with too many toys. Instead, seek out toys they are genuinely interested in. Some may prefer animals to cars; others may prefer soft toys over wooden ones. Ask your child what they like – this in itself is beneficial as it encourages them to think through answers for themselves.
You can even do this during their playtime. For example, if racing around with cars, you could ask, “Where is the car going? Why is it going there? Who is in the car?”; If they’re enjoying their dolls-house, it might be, “Who lives in the house? What are they doing today?”. Answering open-ended questions gets children’s creative minds thinking and their aptitude for independent thought growing.
However, avoid overwhelming your child with questions. Allowing them to play happily on their own, as long as they’re safe, will still encourage their imagination to thrive!
We live in a society filled with technology, but every child needs books. Igniting creativity, curiosity and imagination, not to mention its linguistic, neurological and educational benefits the activity brings, the rewards of reading are endless. Children are never too young to be read to and time spent reading to your little one is time well spent indeed. The more books the better!
A visual mural is just fantastic for sparking the imagination. Displayed in their playroom or bedroom, your child can treat it like a permanent story book: a blank canvas where anything is possible. As before, asking your child open-ended questions such as “What do you see? Why are they doing that?” will reap developmental benefits.
Eaton Square Schools and Nurseries cordially invites clients and friends of Dragons of Walton Street to their next Virtual Open Morning: 9:30am-10:30am (GMT) on Thursday 24th June 2021.
The event will be livestreamed from the School’s historic Eccleston Square building, complete with:
- Welcome from Principal, Sebastian Hepher and Headmistress, Trish Watt
- Introduction from Head Boy and Head Girl (current Year 6 pupils)
- Live Q&A Session
Places are strictly limited. To secure your place, please click here.