The importance of play-based learning in nursery schools

The importance of play-based learning in nursery schools 4As you look for the right Nursery for your child, you will often hear the term “play-based learning”, and people often wonder what is “play-based learning” and why it is so important.

Play-Based learning, often intertwined with the curiosity approach, is as simple as it sounds. The children learn through play. When children are engaged in their play, they explore, take risks and use their imaginations; the older they get, the more they learn to problem-solve. Not only do they do all the above, but they are also learning social skills and physical and cognitive development. 

The Benefits of Play-Based Learning in Nursery Schools

The importance of play-based learning in nursery schools 3Play-based learning appeals to children’s natural curiosity and their desire to engage in experiences based on their unique interests, including outdoor play, as they make sense of the world around them. We use the children’s interests to build upon what they already know.

Here at Angels by Day, we have a weekly topic that we focus on, and all staff members in the room will add ideas at the beginning of the week, often incorporating elements of outdoor play.

Over the week, the planning fills up quickly with children’s interests and also, and we add on any next steps they are working on. We have found that using the children’s interests has positively impacted the children’s learning. They stay engaged in the activities for more extended periods. 

Elements of Play-Based Learning

There are different elements to play-based learning, and for it to work and for the children to be engaged, you have to think about the following;

Self-direction: This is where the children choose their activity, and they create their way of playing. It’s okay for adults to supervise and make comments, but let the children lead and find their own way of doing things. 

Unstructured Exploration: The children use their interests to explore and choose what they want to play with. We ensure there are many options, but it is solely left up to the children to decide. 

Fun: Whenever planning activities for children is vital to ensure that they will have fun whilst learning. 

Process-oriented: It is essential that when setting out activities, there is no end goal. Instead, it is all about the process. 

There are many different benefits to play-based learning, which include the following;

The importance of play-based learning in nursery schools 2Language and literacy skills: During the nursery stages of a child’s life, studies show that play promotes a child’s literacy and language development. During preschool years, a child’s vocabulary grows and develops significantly, and play-based learning encourages conversations to occur naturally. Even participating in individual play-based learning promotes language and communication.


A child will often speak to themselves while playing or narrate the toys they are playing with, even acting out multiple sides of a conversation.

When playing with each other, children engage in different forms of communication, including storytelling, negotiation, and goal sharing. For example, when playing “school,” children will decide who is the teacher and who are the students.

The importance of play-based learning in nursery schoolsAdults can support language development through play by encouraging conversation, asking questions, and introducing new words. They can also observe and assess the children’s development whilst watching them play with their friends. 

Rather than the children being told ‘facts’, they learn through discovery. This enables deeper, contextualized learning where children don’t just learn what is true but why it is true.

Children’s creativity is encouraged as they use play scenarios to apply their imagination, practice fantasies, and see if their thoughts and ideas work.

Having confidence and a positive attitude toward learning helps a child to develop the ability to try new things and take risks. In addition, allowing children to choose how they play enables them to grasp concepts more quickly because they are interested and engaged in what they are learning.

Lastly, play-based learning also dramatically impacts the children’s fine and gross motor development skills. Gross development skills include activities such as throwing, climbing, running, and jumping. Fine motor skills are developed by participating in activities such as drawing, painting, building, or role-playing. 

Incorporating Play-Based Learning at Angels by Day

At Angels by Day, we incorporate play-based learning by; 

>Having both indoor and outdoor spaces for the children to play in. 

>Ensuring that the children have lots of opportunities to have uninterrupted play. 

>We ensure the rooms have a variety of spaces and materials, such as sensory play and a home corner.

 >Our planning is a mixture of child-led and adult lead activities so that we are incorporating the children’s interests into activities. Ask if the kinder provides an opportunity for both individual and group play.

>We make sure there is lots of opportunity for children to decide their own play experience each day.

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