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February 13, 2022 Sunday 04:35:21 PM IST

Play and Distance Learning: Why Children Need It

Teacher Insights

The saying " All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" was used first in James Howell's book "Proverbs" in 1659! The saying stands true today, even if it was quoted aeons ago. 

For every child, play is the primary vehicle for learning. Play starts right from infancy. However, purposeful learning and playing starts in school. A rich play experience is invaluable because it provides opportunities for self-discovery and social connections. 

 But, how is all this possible in a scenario where children are dependent on online education? Distance learning has kept them away from the school campus for months. The looming health crisis has restricted them to their homes while school playgrounds remain eerily silent and devoid of their merry laughter. 

 However, life must go on, and the child must play. The best CBSE schools in Chennai, like Babaji Vidhyashram School, prioritise play because it is highly essential. Let's explore further to understand why. 

 Why Is Play So Important For Children? 

 According to research, learning through play tops book and note learning. In play, the students set the goals, which is exactly what they are developmentally ready to do. The same cannot be said for academics. 

 If we list the benefits of play, it may exceed this page because the advantages are unlimited. However, here's how play contributes to a student's life. It helps children:

 •Channelise and release all their extra energy
•Learn problem-solving skills
•Develop fine and gross motor skills
•Discover their strengths and weaknesses
•Discover positive self-esteem and independence
•Learn to compromise and find resolutions for conflict
•Explore and learn from mistakes
•Understand the practicality of academic concepts

•Discover the benefits of teamwork 

 Now comes the million-dollar question: How can we promote play in a remote learning environment? It is a far more complicated process than teaching Science or Math. Yet, we cannot rob our students of the benefits of play. We owe it to them to devise ways to impart play with learning. So here are some measures that will work well in the current situation.

Ideas To Promote Play With Distance Learning (H2)

 Talk to parents

 Remote learning is a three-way process. Unlike physical classes where only the students and teachers are involved, remote learning has brought parents to the forefront. Therefore if you plan to prioritise play, you cannot do so without parental involvement. You can:

 •Emphasise the importance of unstructured play
•Include play in the students' daily and weekly assignments
•Encourage parents to take photos and videos of children playing
•Ask parents to record students talking about the game

 Talk to students

 It is a hundred times more important to talk to students in remote learning, than it is with direct learning. In IGCSE schools in Chennai, like International Village School, teachers conduct one-on-ones with each student to collect their input regarding play. 

These one-on-one sessions can foster a better teacher-student bond because children love teachers who talk about anything other than academics! Some teachers say it is a real eye-opener because students divulge their list of favourite games, some of which are even new for teachers. 

 This up-close and personal evaluation will help teachers incorporate the childrens' favourite games in academic activities. 

Find common ground

 Make it a point to share your interest in their play. Ask questions about the difficulty levels. Make children list the challenges they faced during play and how they overcame them. Keep the entire conversation focused on play. This will help all the students understand the value and attention you give to play and academics.

 Incorporate online games

 Currently, there must be millions of online games for all age groups. A little research will help you find safe and relevant games that align with academic concepts. For example, you can teach basic Arithmetic concepts, photosynthesis, and vocabulary. Games like Pictionary, Scavenger Hunts, Pitching Pennies, Missing objects, word and number puzzles are already popular. Ask your students! You will be amazed by the list they come up with! 

 Discuss problems & solutions

 Remote learning may not be as fun as in the initial stages. At some point, your students may feel the frustration of being cooped up at home. Therefore, it is wise to share whatever strategies you use in your classroom to help students emotionally. Ask them to:

 •Take a break
•Run or jump on the spot
•Talk to an adult
•Communicate through pictures

 Ask them what suggestions they would give their friends if they needed help. Guide them to use the same solutions to solve their little problems. 

 Introduce "Meaningful Play"

 When deciding to introduce play into learning, ensure it gives the student a choice about what they want to do. Meaningful play should drive the child to experiment with new ideas and concepts. The student should enjoy and learn something of value, which will help them foster an interest in the game. 

 Before We Bid Adieu 

 The day will come when we return to our schools and classrooms. The day will come when our playgrounds will reverberate with the laughter and noise of our students. Until then, we need to ensure that children play as much as they learn. So, let's devise new and innovative ways to incorporate play with distance learning. And let's do it today