Letting children play helps deep learning

Three NSW public schools are champions of play-based learning after making the finals of the Sydney Opera House's Play Award. Jim Griffiths reports.

Two boys dressed as pirates playing in classroom Two boys dressed as pirates playing in classroom
Image: Play-based pirate fun and learning at Middle Harbour Public School

The lines between work and play have been blurred at three NSW public schools where play-based learning has resulted in recognition.

Lindfield Learning Village, Granville Public School and Middle Harbour Public School were recently finalists in Sydney Opera House’s inaugural Play Award.

Middle Harbour Public School principal Laura Barry said integrating play with learning was one of the reasons students “skip in through the school gates each day”.

Assistant Principal Jennifer Osborn leads the play-based approach at the school.

“Teachers and parents have experienced a change in mindset since we introduced play-based learning,” she said.

“Play is now recognised as the ‘work’ in the classroom.”

At the school, play is an investigative learning approach that underpins everything that happens in the classroom every day.

Two school girls playing in the classroom Two school girls playing in the classroom
Image: Play underpins everything in the Middle Harbour Public School classroom

Play-based learning allows students to practise skills and knowledge they have learned and choose tools to play with and problems to solve, as well as where to do so.

“Our teachers act as expert facilitators who explicitly connect students’ choices with curriculum, learning intentions and ways to demonstrate understanding through reflection and feedback,” Ms Barry said.

The teachers’ thorough research and rich expertise in this learning style, established through the Early Life Foundation in 2008, has seen “playful learning” embedded into the daily lives and learning of students at the school.

Learning spaces at the school have also been designed to invite students into deeper learning through investigation.

The Play Award is designed to recognise “a school, learning program, class or an individual student or teacher, who has made a remarkable and ongoing contribution to ‘play in learning’ with demonstrated positive impacts”.

More information about the awards, and the winning West Australian entry, can be found here: https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/schools/play-award

  • News
Return to top of page Back to top