Do you remember when you were a child, so keen to touch everything you see, and so eager to try and do and question? And sometimes during that process, you had a fall, you got a scratch, you didn’t get it right - but you didn’t give up did you? No, you got back up and you begin to learn that actions have consequences and there actually might be many ways to do one thing.
Learning is a process we all go through since the earliest stages of our lives. It is the process of acquiring knowledge, behaviours, skills, values, and preferences. In our previous article, one of the points we discussed is that when your child is enjoying the activity they are participating in, they stay on for the thrill and joy of doing it. While it’s wonderful to see children happy, we also need to encourage them to understand that learning is a process, not a destination, and we should be enjoying the process!
Learning through play is a process that our children naturally enjoy and can help your children develop necessary skills to thrive in the real world.
Research has shown that when young kids are given more opportunities to learn through play, they fare better in school later (read more here). When learners enjoy what they do, they learn to persevere better. They also demonstrate better attention and emotional control. Moreover, play activities usually cover knowledge and skills that are cross-curricular, and enable both theoretical learning and application of knowledge. For example, just playing Monopoly gives players the chance to practice financial literacy and math by making purchase or sales choices on the board, do simple addition of dots on dice, and practice language by pleading your case or arguing your points. The bonus? It also provides an opportunity to regulate your emotions and understand reality in a safe fantasy setting.
As mentioned in the previous article, the means are more important than the end. Play is a choice that once committed to triggers an active state of mind. This translates to a safe space and time to experience trial and error, and be okay to fail. This enables learners to try out possibilities, revise hypotheses and discover new knowledge or skills. If you have heard of the term “design thinking”, that is just a more adult-centred way of describing similar processes and experiences. Play also provides a holistic learning experience and opportunity for growth, covering a variety of well-being aspects including physical, cognitive/intellectual, spiritual, emotional, environmental, social, and occupational.
Do you know that play is an animal instinct in us? Play provides pleasure, a neurological phenomenon that drives us to seek experiences good for our evolutionary future. It is an innate behaviour passed down through generations of human beings and triggers basic psychological needs like competence, autonomy, and relatedness. The participation in play enables social bonding, learning of social rules, and allows practice of the appropriate thoughts and actions to ensure a high survival rate in the world. It is such a natural and instinctive behaviour that it is unnatural to imply that it is a nurtured practice.
Many adults view learning as a linear process when in truth, it is an iterative one. We learn a lot by doing and ‘failing’ and in doing so, we expand our creativity through trying out new ideas to work on problems. We often think creativity is a talent, but it is actually a skill our children can keep developing (read more here) through the learning process.
Robert Evans Wilson Jr. said that,
“the essence of creativity is all about solving problems or satisfying needs.”
It’s the journey that transforms us, not the destination. What does it mean to enjoy the process of delivering education together with those who are part of it? How can we make education enjoyable and engage students in today’s world? Leaps of Knowledge Episode E: Enjoy What You Do and Who You Do It With is coming to you on 29 May 2021.
Leaps of Knowledge invites everyone to be a game changer in education. Through a series of global online events made up of talks, workshops, conferences, and other events, featuring the world’s leading technologists, innovators, and shapers, we aim to inspire a sense of purpose and joy by changing hearts and shaping minds.