Transcript of Parent episode 3 Play based learning

Transcript of Parent episode 3 – Play-based learning (minutes seconds)

Donna Deehan Hello, I'm Donna Deehan and I’m the transition advisor with the early learning team. Today, myself and my colleague, Sylvana Cham are going to delve into one of our favorite subjects, play-based pedagogy or play based learning. Sylvana is one of our preschool advisors in the early learning team and I've really been looking forward to having this chat with you, Sylvana.

Sylvana ChamHi Donna. I'm also looking forward to this chat. You know how passionate I am about play-based learning.

Donna DeehanWhen we think of learning, a lot of people quite traditionally think about being taught something directly or learning in a classroom with a teacher. However, in the early childhood years we focus a lot on play based learning and how learning for children can be encouraged and extended and sometimes more beneficial through play. So today we'll unpack what we actually mean by play based learning so that families can understand a little more about what is happening for their children when they play. And of course why preschools are generally really strong advocates for this and why it takes, play takes such a large part of the day for a child at preschool. Some people still sort of grapple with the idea of this, um, pedagogy or this style of learning being referred to as play-based, and as we know, it can fall within many other descriptions including inquiry based learning or project based learning. Um, so it's important to understand that the description may vary.

Sylvana Cham – You're very right Donna. Some schools, as you say, actually do use a number of those terms including age appropriate pedagogy, investigative play and inquiry based learning. All those types of learning actually require children to learn while involved in play-based experiences. For me as a teacher, a parent, and particularly in my role as an auntie to many young nieces and nephews, I often find myself trying to explain to parents I know, that their children are always learning and that really the best way to learn is by doing something, having the opportunity to have a go, to investigate, to explore, and that is what children are actually doing through play. Children learn so much when they're involved in play. It allows them to discover how things work and make sense of things like the way which to hold a book, when reading for example, or how to hold a pencil for drawing and then writing, they have a go at doing things and they take risks and solve problems without really worrying about anything. All those things are really important foundations for developing literacy, numeracy, and social skills. It's not really any different to how an adult learns to use a brand new mobile phone. I don't know about you Donna, but I don't really know anyone who reads a manual from a brand new mobile phone to learn how to use it. They just pick up the phone, switch it on, start playing with it and learn all the new features, what it does, what it doesn't do and what they do and don't like from it.

Donna DeehanAbsolutely. Sylvana. I mean that's the first thing we do, don't we, to get a phone or a device and I know I'm, I'm one for not reading the manual and I guess it's how we gain an understanding of, of how it works or how things work, how to mess it up maybe and learn from that trial and error and the making the mistakes. And, and of course then we, we always fuss around with our phones, how we like it to be like on the what, what you want in lock screen photo to be or that sort of thing. So there's, so thinking back to children's play, there's some sort of different ways that children play. Sometimes children will play but completely uninterrupted. Sometimes the play can be very child led. Sometimes it is scaffold scaffolded, sorry, by adults, whether intentionally or not, sometimes we pop into play and we'll direct it a bit. Sometimes it just might happen by being asked for help, and of course the children can play solitary or parallel besides somebody or in cooperative play. Other ways of engaging in play. Of course, having playing to routine times of the day, you know, say maybe, who can pack up their toys fastest or things like that. And examples from um parents own experiences they can, things that they enjoyed, they can bring into the play with children. And while that's happening, of course there's all sorts of learning going on. There's a few examples I can think back to with my own kids. One of them was my son was helping a plumber dig and install piping in our small town and the plumber was there for a week and he was a very patient man. And I've watched my son play beside him, and I could look at it with a parent lens rather than a teacher lens.

Donna Deehan – It was just really amazing, and I was watching my son laying pipes and helping to measure and, and playing with the tools that the plumber let him play with and to any sort of observer of watching it was, it was really like he was playing, but there was so much more going on with problem solving and I guess early math skills and he was just doing it in his own way, in his own capacity. And I also remember a time with my daughter when I was studying and she'd sit beside me with the computer. So we had an old box and we made a weird looking computer. It was, I had an old Apple IIE and you know, we drew a, like a screen and a keyboard and whatnot and the play that play situation created for her just sort of extended into all sorts of different play like, you know, doctors surgery in a hospital and all this. So, her dramatic skills just took full flight. So I guess my point is that as a parent, if we, we can miss these opportunities for learning, even when you're a teacher, you still have those parent sort of glasses on and you can see what's going on and, and try not to miss those opportunities for learning through play.

Sylvana Cham – I totally agree with you Donna. They're great examples that you've just given as a mother of two children are often grappled with the notion of my role as a parent, as a mother. And really my role as a teacher was almost like I had to wear two hats. It took me a while to adjust when I first became a mum. I knew that every interaction I had with my children was a learning moment. And I wondered if I should take on more of a formal teacher role as they grew a little older with them, but looking back now I know really that the best thing I ever did to help my children learn was wearing the hat of a mother because we know that the first and most influential teachers of children are family members and we'd never want to take that away from anybody. I always remind other adults in my life about this actually, particularly my sisters with their young children, try and give them examples like the fact that children are learning about literacy when we talk to them or when we listened to them and when they're listening to our conversations with others and the way that we talk with others when we're singing songs together or reading books together or telling stories about special occasions or talking about something that they've drawn or painted or made with Play-Doh. It's just those really simple interactions that they're having with their children every single day and the interactions that we have with my nieces and nephews every single day and how important they are for learning. These are the things that provide the foundation to learning when they go to school. So I try and unpack it a bit further and tell them they need to know how to listen to speak before they can read and write. And in fact the language they bring from home, be it English or a language other than English actually strengthens their learning at school.

Donna DeehanOh, definitely Sylvana. With the beginnings of language, no matter what the language, I mean, each time we read a story, we're demonstrating the fundamentals, like which way it book is held and you know, which way the pages are turned. They sound like really simple everyday tasks, but, I think as parents it's important we understand that they're laying foundations, you know, for as you said, learning at school. And of course this sort of learning will extend into activities, at home, like cooking, just modeling, reading recipes and the idea that that print has meaning and magazines around the home and books. Looking at signs in the community. Of course, when you're driving in the car, uh, continually gives that message, that print, in any form holds important information and they're the, they're the real foundations of the beginning literacy and I guess as parents, if we have an understanding about some of the outcomes in early childhood, or the early years of school, we can begin to see that learning's going on in everyday activities, not that those outcomes, you know, that we need to as parents understand that the complex side of that, that's definitely the teacher and educators job.

But just a bit of an idea of what we are doing in everyday situations is that there is learning happening. Everything we do has an element of learning and I always revert back to that idea that you mentioned earlier that, that what we do as adults when we get a new phone or in fact anything new, we play with it to understand that.

Sylvana ChamAbsolutely Donna and that's why preschool teachers plan all learning experiences through play. They know it's the best way for children to learn and how important it is for brain development. It's important for our listeners to know this as is a really key point that I try and drive with families in our preschools. I often had parents come into preschool every year, something that I know I'm going to expect where parents ask me about when I'm going to teach their children because all they do at preschool all day is play. It's just something that I know is going to happen annually and then parents are really, they're usually just worried about their children being ready for big school, but once we've explained that learning is happening during play, it tends to put their mind at ease. I'll give you an example that I like to use. The reason I like this examples cause lots of children have puzzles at home and they have puzzles at preschool and I really value the opportunity for play and the learning that happens through puzzles because when children do a puzzle, it's an opportunity to explore concepts like pattern-making, problem solving, numerical math, mathematical concepts such as part and whole.

Also a great opportunity for children to learn how to persist with a task until it's completed. Plus when we sit with children and talk to them about the pieces and where they might fit and how we'll do the edge before we do the rest of it and what the picture might look like when it's all together. All those conversations that we have with children, who are completing a puzzle, are great ways of helping them to develop language skills. So these are all things that are part of school readiness.

Donna DeehanYeah, sure. And that's great advice for families who feel like they aren't as confident with the learning through play idea. The thing is that in any situation that involves playing with their children, it's more than likely there's already a learning experience happening there. You know, it's, it's likely that it's, even if you're not thinking of it as that, that there's definitely some learning going on right back from babies playing peek-a-boo with you. You know, that hide and seek and all that sort of stuff. And if, if parents and carers sort of take a moment to think back to their own childhood and what they enjoy playing with that's likely to spark that interest to begin the same with their own child.

Sylvana ChamSure is Donna. I know if I think back to my childhood games and my memories of hide and seek and dress ups and my favorite was really role playing with my siblings. These are the things that were also my favorites with my children and the things that my children enjoyed playing with.

Donna DeehanYeah, sure. Look, it's been really lovely to chat with you today about this Sylvana and um, I hope everybody's enjoyed listening to us today. Um, as early childhood educators, we've always recognized that parents and carers are the child's first teacher. As you mentioned earlier, Sylvana, it's an important role. It's not always sort of as helping laying the foundations for learning, but that is exactly what's going on.

Sylvana Cham – Absolutely, Donna. It really is an important role. You and I both as parents know just how important that role is and really we know there's just so much learning that is going on at home with parents, with extended family members, and with children every single day through any interaction. I've really enjoyed chatting with you about this today, Donna. Thank you.

Donna DeehanThanks Sylvana, and thanks everyone for listening.

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