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Michele Brogan, Ailish Daly, Jackie Sheridan and Kathy Feeny took part in a mobility to Osnovna sola Log -Dragomer in Slovenia. We visited both primary schools in their district, and the trip proved rewarding, interesting and encouraging. Children the world over are the same…they want to laugh, have fun and they absorb knowledge like sponges. By incorporating playful pedagogy into their time in school they learn more easily, retain information more deeply and become more aware of the learning opportunities in their environment.

During the act of play children are exploring, taking risks, engaging their imagination, and solving problems. They are learning valuable skills that support social, physical and cognitive development. This was observed in classrooms in both schools where the children were actively engaged in their own learning, guided but not stifled on the path they took to discovery.

It is essential for young children to engage in wholesome play to ensure their minds and bodies develop in a healthy way. It provokes a positive impact on children’s development regarding their confidence as they explore, relate to their peers, set individual goals and problem-solve. As a result, it is extremely important for staff to know how to implement learning experiences into these activities, creating an environment where children can flourish in a fun and engaging manner.

A play-based learning environment encourages talking, reading, thinking and writing. Through this, the child sees literacy and numeracy as part of their everyday experience and can share these experiences with their peers, learning from each other and becoming more accepting of different opinions and ways of doing things. They learn to be more accommodating of each other’s strengths and weakness, more empathetic and kind.

We left with an enhanced knowledge of what play is, its benefits, and how effective it can be in the classroom – to support a child’s overall development and learning.

We came home with enhanced skills, tools and resources for play activities to support daily classroom life and the teaching and learning of literacy and maths as well as many, if not all, other subjects.

We were also afforded the opportunity on our return to critically reflect on our current practice in teaching literacy and maths and how play can be incorporated to add to a child’s learning experience

The course really heightened our awareness of the power of play in learning; building empathy, cultivating the imagination, and using laughter and creativity to fuel connection. We saw the joy of learning come to life and see important skills develop in a really meaningful and fun way.