Through play, children engage with the people, places and objects around them to build an understanding of their world. Positive attitudes towards learning, such as persistence, curiosity, and imagination, are all developed during play, setting children up for a life-long love of learning.
In early learning environments, qualified teachers and educators design and set up purposeful play-based programs that provide children with opportunities to explore, experiment, question and discover new concepts about the world in playful ways. Teachers and educators play and explore together with children, extending their learning through warm and engaging interactions.
Children learn through play in many ways:
- Physical play such as building with blocks and climbing helps children build confidence and patience as they develop problem-solving skills, core strength, perseverance, resilience and gross and fine motor skills.
- Dramatic play such as role playing or dressing up provides opportunities for children to develop emotional regulation, social skills and expressive language as they negotiate and co-create narratives with other children.
- Sensory play with materials such as sand and water encourages children to experiment with texture, matter and form, and develops their understanding of concepts such as weight, volume and gravity.
- Nature/outdoor play helps children feel safe, strong and connected to the natural world, developing empathy and extending their vocabulary as they look to the world beyond themselves, while also exploring concepts such as quantity, growth, and changes in matter.
- Creative play such as art, music and dance allows children to express themselves and respond to the world around them, while also developing imagination, communication skills, planning and fine motor skills as they use different methods of expressing their thoughts and ideas.