Let’s Play!

The Power of Play Based Education in Our School

Play is conceptually and developmentally valued and recognised as key to children’s wellbeing and part of a healthy and complete childhood. (Miller & Almon, 2009).

Why Should Play Be Part of The Day?

Current literature and research evolving around the world is convincing regarding the power of play for all children. Well before the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights cited play as a basic right of every child, philosophers and psychologists, such as Plato, Piaget, and Friedrich Froebel, wrote about the importance of play in healthy child development (Milteer, Ginsburg, & Mulligan, 2012, p. 204). Children themselves have positive attitudes about play (Fisher, 2009), and often identify it as the activity they enjoy most at school as well as at home (Sahlberg & Doyle, 2019). The benefits of play often transcend socio-economic status, gender, and cultural background and as such, play can also be conceived as a leverage of equity and help to level the field for those children at risk of exclusion from educational success.

Benefits of Play Include:

  • Cognitive development and improvements in executive function
  • Social and emotional health emotional stability and resiliency
  • Empathy and feelings of well-being
  • Physical health
  • Improvements to attention, coping, memory, solving problems
  • Dealing with trauma
  • Planning and decision-making skills
  • Motivation to learn
  • Building friendships, social skills and attitudes on sharing, turn-taking,   
  • Self-restraint, working in groups and getting along with others
  • Creativity and divergent thinking
  • Healthy brain development
  • Motor skills, 
  • Early literacy and language development
  • Self-regulation

What Types of Play Do Teachers Provide at School?

Despite its recognised benefits across childhood, free play is under increasing threat in the school day (Jay & Knaus, 2018). While teachers may see the value of play and its link with children’s educational outcomes, they feel a downward pressure put on their time as a result of prescriptive national learning outcomes (Theobald et al., 2015).

At South Padbury PS we aim to provide as many different play opportunities during the school week from Kindergarten to Year 6 that support both curriculum and academic outcomes as well as social, emotional and physical needs. 

These include:

  • Open-ended play for students to explore and discover and wonder (Open-ended play)
  • Games/activity/play opportunities that have been modelled by the teacher for an intentional social or curriculum purpose and then students engage independently and practice (Modelled play)
  • Games/activity/play opportunities that are done both with the teacher and the student at the same time for a social or curriculum purpose, and with the use of questioning and explaining (Purposefully-framed play)

How Do We Incorporate Play at South Padbury Primary School?

Play looks different in each year level, as it is adapted to suit the physical, fine motor, social and cognitive development of an age group. 

The following play situations can be seen around the school on a daily basis:

  • Before school socialising activities that may be free choice or selected specifically by the teacher, including Lego, Numero, drawing, Mobilo, blocks, real world play sets such as farms, Zoo, reading corner, magnetics, stuffed animal play, phonics games
  • Card games including Go Fish, Memory, Uno, Snap, Spot It
  • Board games including Monopoly, Snakes and Ladders, Chess, Battleship, Guess Who, Trivial Pursuit
  • Writing, making table
  • Daily fitness, physical games, dance
  • Home corner
  • Nature Playground Adventures
  • Fine motor threading, sewing, cutting
  • Construction activities
  • Bush/Nature Cubby Construction
  • Curriculum based classroom games to support learning area knowledge and key foundation skills
  • Giant games before school, at recess and lunch (Connect 4, Dominoes)
  • Peace Ranger Program
  • Play Safe Leader Program
  • Class Buddies Program
  • Comfort and sensory toys
  • Games afternoons across mixed classes
  • Online games/Apps such as Wordle, Waffle, Monster Hunt, Mathletics, Sudoku