Seriously, let’s play!

When it comes to learning, play might seem like a luxury, but make no mistake, play is learning, and it’s serious business.

Play, at any age, is fundamental to learning and for young children in particular, it’s their way of exploring and interacting with the world. It’s why play remains an important part of how children learn at SCOTS PGC and it manifests in many different ways, for example –

  • A Year 1 girl designing and building a Lego tower to act out the rhyme ‘Jack be nimble’
  • A Year 7 boy trying different ways to solve a visual puzzle
  • Students from different grades joining together to play basketball on the courts, making up rules as they go along without the involvement of an adult
  • Middle School students taking on roles as members of the Australian Government and demonstrating arguing a bill in their Humanities class as they learn about democracy
  • Year 3 students being gently guided by their teacher to play a maths number game
  • Prep students taking on the role of archaeologists to dig for hidden artefacts in the sandpit
  • A teacher singing a reworked version her favourite rock ballad to spark a class’ interest in a Maths concept
  • A teenage boy pulling apart the engine of a broken down dirt bike to see how it works and how it can be put back together
  • A Year 5 girl completely engrossed in a ‘passion project’ during a time of independent discovery

It’s important to remember that play is more than just being given the freedom to ‘have fun’. While it might feel this way, in actual fact, it’s a very purposeful form of learning that encourages young people to actively engage in discovery.

Play can be self-guided by the child or scaffolded by a supportive adult. Whether it’s structured or unstructured, indoors or outdoors, playful experiences foster creativity, curiosity and imagination. Play can be silent and solitary or loud and interactive. It can be messy and it can be joyful.

In their recent book, Let the Children Play, renowned Finnish Educator Pasi Sahlberg and academic William Doyle dedicate an entire chapter to the learning power of play. Here, they explore its role in healthy brain development, fostering imagination and dexterity as well as building physical, cognitive and emotional strength.

Play at any age provides children with opportunities to explore the world in their own terms. It nurtures self-esteem and self-regulation, whilst developing problem solving skills, an understanding of social rules when interacting with others and enhancing cognitive understanding. Physical play can build strength, coordination and fitness, as well as a sense of accomplishment when skills and challenges are mastered.

These benefits certainly make a compelling case for prioritising time to play.


Amy Woodgate

Amy Woodgate is an experienced educator with a strong background in Early Years and Primary education. From teaching in the classroom, to leading and managing academic programs, Amy has spent the last 16 years creating high quality learning environments focused on developing the ‘whole’ child. Unsurprisingly, Amy is a passionate advocate for the power of play.