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Play based 
learning

Learning through play is one of the most important ways children learn and develop.  Play is an activity where children show their remarkable ability for exploration, imagination and decision making.  Play based learning helps support your childs development and learning by enhancing thier physical, social, emotional and cognitive skillS. It reinforces thier literacy and numeracy skills and helps them to devekopproblem solving skills and conflict resolution abilities.  

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The Teachers
ROle

Teachers encourage children’s learning through play by:

Providing resources that reflect children’s ages, interests, knowledge, strengths, abilities and culture to stimulate and support play. Resources which allow open ended use of items like blocks or cardboards boxes foster creativity and the ability to manipulate concepts mentally as children. For example, turn a box into a car.

Planning play experiences based on the assessment of children’s individual differences, interests, developmental needs and ability. 

Observing children as they play so that they can understand how they play with other children, what skills and understanding they demonstrate in play and what activities can strengthen their skills in play.

Joining in children’s play to extend the child’s learning and to model skills such as reasoning, appropriate language, and positive behaviours.

How does play support your child’s development and learning?

Social and emotional development


Dramatic and imaginative play which includes dressing up and role play can develop positive social and emotional skills and values. This provides opportunities for children to: Practice how to work with other children, negotiate ideas, and make choices and decisions Develop self-confidence by experiencing success and challenges Learn to control their emotions, reduce impulsive behaviour, or reduce stress as they act out feelings and events that might be worrying them Develop empathy and fairness as they learn to play alongside and with other children.




Physical development


Active play using large and small muscles such as climbing, running, ball games, digging, jumping, and dancing. This supports children’s overall health and sense of wellbeing, physical growth, appreciation for the benefits of active lifestyles and skills for independence in self-help such as dressing or feeding.




Cognitive development


When your child plays individually and with others their cognitive skills, such as thinking, remembering, learning and paying attention are all being developed. Children develop the following cognitive skills through play: Problem solving The power of imagination and creativity Concepts such as shapes, colours, measurement, counting and letter recognition Strengths such as concentration, persistence and resilience.




Literacy and numeracy development


Play requires thinking, language, interactions, curiosity and exploration. Through play children develop skills and understandings including: An increased understanding of words and their use Listening and speaking skills Writing skills through scribbling, painting and drawing Learning how stories work (plot, characters, structure, purpose and format of words on a page)





Find out more about the Early Years Foundation Stage

Find out more about the
Reggio Emilia Approach

Return to the
Early Years Curriculum Overview

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