The concept of learning, by playing, is not new. In fact, for ages, children have been taught highly complex concepts by means of games and activities, concepts that they wouldn't have otherwise grasped. Such games and activities enhance personal learning and development, that no book can provide. It is true that a school provides education, but knowledge is subjective and can be increased and improved, by means of some very simple methods such as playing games. There are so many things that you have your kids do, without realizing the kind of message it is imparting to your child, or the kind of effect it has on her/his mind. Particularly games have this effect on kids, and here we will talk about the concept of children learning by playing.
How Children Learn By Playing
Instead of having kids cram information and simply talking to them about various concepts, parents, along with several educational institutions are adopting the art of teaching by playing with children. This, they believe, is a better way of inculcating not only concepts but also essential values in life, particularly during the period of early childhood education, in the most formative stages of a child's life. It is human nature to learn by experience, rather than when told or explained by someone else. Certain things are learned only after you experience them yourself. You have to learn from the consequences of your actions, and then realize why you were or weren't asked to do something. Similar is the case when it comes to children learning by playing. Based on child participation and involvement, learning can be made fun rather than a mundane, stressful task, that emphasizes only on cramming as much information as possible.
Let's understand this approach by example. Why are kid's taught mathematics on the Abacus before they are taught it in the classroom? It is because the abacus lays a strong foundation upon which the subject revolves. The basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are all taught on this colorful tool, where kids learn by manual movement of beads how these concepts work. This makes it a playful activity that allows learning by playing. Now let's take a look at some board games that implement the concept of learning while playing. Monopoly teaches children how to use money wisely at a young age. It teaches them how to carry out transactions, and the art of decision making. While it is a highly fun and engaging game, it is teaching things that education does not teach. Games, such as Scrabble are designed to increase word power. If you look deeply, that is not all Scrabble does. By having a point system, it enables kids to strategize and make high scoring words by using letters appropriately in strategic locations. All these games in some way are educational games that teach children things that parents and the best education are sometimes unable to do.
In the digital age, kids are more technologically savvy, which is why a lot of educational computer games and video games have been designed to teach children, basic concepts such as strategy, the importance of team work, along with enhancing focus and concentration. No matter how much you may be against it, video games are engaging and increase focus among those who use them. It is this engaging quality that is now utilized by game designers worldwide to impart education by a medium that is fun. Puzzles, games that increase word power, games that improve memory power, that teach complex scientific concepts in a simple manner, are all available to help kids enhance their learning. This may be hard to believe, but some schools in the US have started employing this technique to increase learning ability of children, and have been successful with this method. These schools also help kids design games that allow them to learn in the process of designing. For instance, a detective game based on problem solving will help kids understand how it works while they are designing the game. Though problem solving is subjective and depends on the kind of problem one is facing, there are certain methods of going about solving a problem that can be taught by means of designing these games. This is an interesting learning style for children that has been adopted by some schools.
In the classroom, while going beyond books and all that they have to offer, children are also taught the power of healthy communication, of group effort, and the benefits of team building. This is done by means of various team building activities for kids. It teaches children not only to function as a group, but to lead and manage large groups of people, thereby imbibing leadership skills. Similar is the case with outdoor games and activities. Being the captain of a football team teaches a child how to lead, manage, and achieve goals by means of the aforementioned concepts. In activities like camping, children are taught the importance of nature, and the value of having the comfort of a home and a bed, when they are roughing it up outdoors.
All in all, this idea of 'children learning by playing' can be implemented in different manners. Not all children take to a particular activity and may have other ways of imbibing knowledge and wisdom. Yet, this is a very effective way of laying a strong foundation of concepts that are not taught by books to children. There is a lot for children to learn in life, and though not everything, playing with children, and teaching them in this process will be highly beneficial to all of them.
By Puja Lalwani