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Role of the adult in playful learning

Role of the adult in playful learning

Children learn through play. They develop various skills through different kinds of play-based activities; social, emotional, language, maths and cognitive skills. 

Parents and caregivers can play an important role in facilitating play. This means that an adult takes on an active role to direct the play with children. The adult provides specific age appropriate toys to  the child to achieve a specific outcome. The idea is to develop a specific skill by choosing a specific toy for a child to play with.

In order to facilitate playful learning, the adult has to

  • Create a safe, organised and adaptable environment.
  • Manage the routine of the session to make sure that children have time to follow the activities set out for them.
  • Provide adequate and accessible play materials and toys as well as allowing for children to explore the play materials, taking care of the toys and packing up the toys.
  • Observe and document children’s learning and use this information to plan what sort of opportunities and experiences to offer children next to further enhance their development.
  • Design a programme that includes time for child-initiated as well as adult-directed playful learning activities.
  • Model acceptable behaviour, language and social skills to children.
  • Build on children’s learning by guiding and showing children the next step.
  • Empower children through allowing decision making.
  • Encourage and praise children.
  • Engage in rich conversations with children during play.

Tips on ways to respond to children that encourages play

  • Giving children access to a stimulating and interesting environment.
  • Allowing the child to play.
  • Telling stories and singing songs.
  • Talking to the child as they are playing, using rich descriptive language to describe what is happening.
  • Allowing for children to try to play with something themselves and helping the child when the child asks for help.
  • Building a relationship with the child by looking them in the eyes and having a conversation with the child.

Things parents/caregivers should avoid doing that discourages play

  • Shouting when a child wants to explore by touching everything.
  • Chasing children away when they are in adult company.
  • Criticising the child when a mistake is made, such as a puzzle piece that is put in the wrong place and then has to be moved.
  • Taking toys out of a child’s hands dictating how the toy is to be played with and not allowing for the child to be creative with the toy.
  • Expecting children to be quiet.

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