The benefits of play based learning

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The field of education is ever-changing and growing to adapt to the evolving environment in which people teach and learn. Consequently, the ways in which students learn and grow are continuously transitioning, as the world changes every day, and so we as teachers need to be able to adapt to these new circumstances along with our students. Students learn in a multitude of ways, and one of the ways in which educators can support multiple learning styles is by encouraging a play-based learning model in the classroom.

Teacher’s role

Play-based learning refers to the model in the classroom in which students learn primarily through playing. It is the job of both the teacher and the student to facilitate this play, (O’Leary, 2019). The teacher must support the child through their learning by allowing for play to take place, and the child must be the one who initiates the play. For example, while a student is playing with dolls or toys, the teacher can ask questions in order to encourage critical thinking within the learner. Further, children learn best through hands-on experiences. By allowing them to play, the students will be using their motor skills, their cognitive skills, communication and language skills in order to problem solve and further their own development and learning.

Are rules necessary?

When it comes to play-based learning, the students must be encouraged to play in a variety of ways. The founder of the National Institute for Play, Stuart Brown, has defined certain criteria for true play-based learning. The criteria is as follows: Play must be pleasurable, children must enjoy the activity or it is not play. Play must be intrinsically motivated, children engage in play simply for the satisfaction the behavior itself brings. It has no extrinsically motivated function or goal. Play is process oriented. When children play, the means are more important than the ends. Play is freely chosen. It is spontaneous and voluntary. If a child is pressured, she will likely not think of the activity as play. Play is actively engaged. Players must be physically and/or mentally involved in the activity. Play is non-literal. It involves make-believe.

Play based learning at Cherry Tree

At Cherry Tree Preschool, we encourage children to play as much as possible inside and outside of the classroom. We often present them with ample free-time with which they are encouraged to explore and play with their surroundings. The benefits of this play-based model of learning can be seen in our school each day, as the students work among themselves to solve problems, with the assistance and support of the teachers who are always there to help guide their thinking. It is encouraged for the children to appreciate and care for their surroundings, which breeds curiosity and imagination among them. They can often be seen playing and learning simultaneously, explaining things to one another and pondering further about their experiences. This active learning is a breeding ground for creativity, which is just one of the stepping stones needed for a successful student who truly values and loves learning.


O’Leary. “Play Based Learning.” Edmentum, 2019

White, Dr. Rachel. “MCM Research Summary.” Children’s Museums, 2012,

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