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Why play and experimental learning is so important for development?

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One of the biggest debates when it comes to selecting an education centre for a child’s early education is accelerated early-learning vs play and experiential learning.

When it comes to accelerated early-learning, there is an intense and pressurised focus of early achievement and the ability to perform academically. It is often that people make the choice to follow this kind of education because of private school entrance exams and similar problematic testing forms. This learning path is not necessarily bad practice, but when taken to the extreme, it can be deeply harmful to development, and the pressure of early academic testing only magnifies the issues.

There is an argument to suggest that it is important to teach children the need for structured learning and to show them that life is not all about play, but at what point is it important to give a child those ideals. At a young age, it’s very important particularly for social skills to learn through play and experimentation and it will allow them to reach their full potential though having that range of learning.

Too much of a focus on academia can lead to the overuse of flash cards, constant throwing of numbers and letters for memory and it promotes the wrong message to children in their early life. While it is important to learn things in a regular fashion and to build knowledge as time goes by, an over-the-top approach to this can have the opposite effect. When a parent places themself in the role of the teacher regularly it is incredibly confusing to a child during a crucial part of their development. This increase in academia-based learning from a very young age is on the rise, as documented in this Washington Post article by education correspondent Valerie Strauss.

Of course, parents should still supplement their professional education, but it is more important to provide encouragement and support. If you’re able to not become too involved in the teaching portion of your child’s learning, it will support a more trusting relationship with you, it is also important not to correct or over evaluate them. The ideal situation is a collaboration with the teaching professional that supports learning together and encouraging expression and problem solving.

We also find that accelerated early-learning programs focus too heavily on Maths and English. It’s very important to supplement these subjects with other alternative forms of intelligence. If your child is excelling in musical or artistic expression at an early age, it is crucial that they explore those as they are just as valid a form of academia as the traditional subjects. There are a wealth of studies that suggest that modern day schooling is dampening creativity in young people, so it is a great idea to combat that from an early age.

The Importance of Play and Experiential Learning

In the case of experiential learning children are free to engage with their own interests and learn through taking on challenging problems as they arise naturally. While they will still be able to gain the answer to 2 + 2, they will do it in an engaging way that suits their learning style. It will be formatted so they will be adding together how many shoes they have, or how many apples. It is a far more exciting and interesting way to learn. This gives context to the reason that they need to learn the information being provided, whereas simple figure addition is just information they are being told that they need to learn. This is true in the way that experiential learning demonstrates the practical uses of maths, science and other subjects.

Experiential learning methods are also important to show your child the experience of reality and the possibility of failure, while allowing them to overcome challenges in a real life setting. They are able to experience the pride associated with problem solving, rather than simply attempting to memorise an answer. This means that children have the chance to develop their own method or strategy to solve the issues they face, meaning that their creativity is stimulated and they will gain the understanding that not all things in the world have right and wrong answers, or right and wrong solutions.

The play portion of this learning style allows children to develop more actively in a social and emotional way. They will learn how the world around them works and how relationships will govern their lives as they grow. They can become leaders, learn to work in a team, and learn to accept criticism and praise. This primitive form of social interaction is absolutely crucial in later life. A lack of these kinds of relationships in early life can really hurt your child in adulthood.

While it is important for a parent to be a domineering figure in a child’s life and that your opinion is the defining factor when it comes to most of their activities. It is important to listen to the way they are reacting to all of their contact with peers and education professionals. It is possible to see what is engaging them most and to put a focus on those areas. This will be a great benefit to them as they move on to the next levels of education.

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Little Oxford Schoolhouse

Little Oxford Schoolhouse

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