Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport. With an estimated budget of €26.2 billion for 2021, it provides opportunities for over 4 million participants to study, train, gain experience, and volunteer abroad.
Our school has identified a key area for improvement as Play Based Learning. We have a national programme of play called Aistear aimed at 0-6 year olds, and this has been well developed and hugely successful in our infant classes. However there is a drop-off of play based activities from 1st – 6th class.
We are aware that play-based learning is an effective practice for deepening understanding and engaging children and our challenge is finding a balance between academic expectations and the developmental needs of our young students. While older students and their teachers might have more curricular demands than younger students, we believe that there needs to be more emphasis on a play-based approach for our 7 – 12 year olds. We want the classroom environment to be designed to engage our pupils’ minds, meet their sensory needs, and offer practice with academic content.
The benefits of play are innumerable — play helps children develop cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally. Play also offers both social-emotional and academic gains. Play helps children build self-confidence. When children are given time to play, they experience growth in memory, language, and symbol recognition skills. Playtime is also linked to learning readiness, which means that students can feel more engaged and prepared in class. Play gives children the opportunity to think creatively. Creative thinking skills are more than just fun: they can play a role in mood and brain development, too. In short, engaging in play can lead to the following benefits for kids—none of which you’ll want your students to miss out on: Self-confidence, Creativity, Social skills, Memory, language, and symbol recognition and Stress management.
Play Based learning will allow for a more inclusive and positive classroom environment/ culture throughout our school. As an example, children for whom English is a second language might struggle academically due to the language barrier and technically worded textbooks so therefore discovery based learning immediately enables them to participate on a more equal basis. For children with additional needs, their ability to access the mainstream curriculum will be more challenging if that curriculum is being delivered in a more directive, traditional manner. Through less directive and more play based learning these children will be included to a much greater extent. We are hoping to design and create learning experiences that are differentiated to cater for all our pupils. In conclusion, play allows children the chance to emulate what they see and practice skills. It gives them an outlet for creativity and experimentation, and skills to communicate and interact.
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