There are a few serious words in our title today - INTEGRATED LEARNING and PLAY. Let’s unpack them to get a full picture of how integrated learning through play can be easily implemented and practiced with our children.
This might sound like a complex and even an alien concept to you, but let me reassure you, that it actually is a rather straightforward and a simple way of making the most of your play times with your children, and you, probably, are already doing it, without even knowing.
Integrated learning approach for young children means that adults are involved with children in planning for play and child-initiated activities, based on their observations and interactions. In it teaching and learning become co-constructive process (Wood, 2010). Children’s interests lead the way to activity planning and playing.
There are two key parts to this: first being that play isn’t simply a way of occupying your child with an activity (Wood 2010). It is a purposeful process controlled by the learners and doers. Children’s comprehension of themselves and the world around them is displayed through play. It is important to observe your child and know what their interest are and what motivates them for certain activities. Your role as an adult is to begin where the child is, even in play (Froebel in Wood, ), therefore knowing the facts will make the process most rewarding and meaningful.
Secondly play facilitates learning, providing a harmonious cognitive, motor and social development of your child. Play brings children much joy, so why not make the most of it by giving them opportunities to learn and develop.
Integrated learning through play in action
Integrated learning through play encourages child’s holistic development, involving a child, other adults and wider environment.
Play times can incorporate different subjects and topics, for example, if you are playing doctor’s office, you can also count the patient's, measure the medicine (5 drops of pretend Calpol, 1 teaspoons of vitamin solution - explain the measurement of a teaspoon). Use real life objects to make it more fun and engaging. These types of play provide hands on learning.
In terms of social development, playing contributes to the development of learning dispositions, such as self- esteem, motivation, engagement and positive social interactions (Wood and Attfield, 2005). It provides essential space for character formation, which cannot be taught. It comes from experience and not from explanations (M. Montessori, p.26,1989). Play experience in social aspects, will expose your child to challenging situations, through which they will learn how to be themselves, adopt, lead and compromise.
Remember, that little minds that are beginning to exist cannot take everything by listening (M.Montessori, p.49, 1968), therefore using the most of the teachable moments, by using a combination of resources and approaches, will be beneficial to your child. Children are very responsive that’s why it is wise to enrich and provide vast amounts of fun learning opportunities for them at this important stage of their lives.
IT IS NEVER TOO LATE
If you haven’t had much experience with integrated learning and learning through play, don’t worry. It is never too late to start and the best part is that you can’t fail at this. Simply be available for your child, observe them and give them opportunities to learn while they are having a great time.
Oh, an if you need more tips & advice on where to start or if you have any questions, get in touch.
For further reading:
Edited by Broadhead P, Howard J. and Wood E. (2010) Play and Learning in Early Years.
Wood, E. and Attfield J. (2005) Play, Learning and the Early Child Curriculum.
M.Montessori (1989) The Child Society and The World. Unpublished speeches and writings. (1998 reprinted)
About The Author
Alina Kalnina Kalnaraja is a writer at Flockmen. Her days are spent between being a mother to an active 4 year old, administrating an office for a non profit organisation in the North of England and freelancing as localisation and social media consultant for a global children’s brand. She is passionate about living an intentional life! She uses her MA in education and various experience gained throughout years in places as far as USA and mainland Europe. Check out her blog.