Children Learn Through Play

Play affects all aspects of the child’s development: how they develop physically, emotionally, socially and in their thinking.

Learning through play invites young children to explore, examine, question, predict, test, investigate and manipulate.

Through play, learning is different for every child because every child is learning at his own pace, learning in his own style, and guided by his own interests.

The best way to evaluate play is to observe children in action and then reflect on how their play is empowering them to reach learning goals and outcomes.

Through the process of play, children engage in learning about the world by constructing knowledge through interaction with the people and the things around them (Chaille & Silvern, 1996).

As parents, we are the biggest supporters of our children’s learning. We need to make sure they have as much time to play as possible during the day to promote cognitive, language, physical, social, and emotional development. Play provides learning opportunities and gives children success and self-esteem.

Preschoolers need opportunities to play, learning centers to explore and adults to support their learning. Learning Centers prepare children not only to become students who will work with others cooperatively and approach learning with joy, but also happier people who will not lose their love of play.

Play is an enjoyable experience for all children. Children of all ages can spend many hours participating in play activities because play supports their understanding of their social environment and facilitates their efforts to build a realistic sense of self (Spodek & Saracho, 1994).

When children are learning and playing with joy they develop a positive approach to learning.

Suggested Links

‘’Play-based learning’’ What is it and why is it important?

Importance of Play in Early Childhood

Play is Children´s Work

Learning through Play

Children speaking about the importance of play   

A new video ‘’The Role of Play in the Overly-Academic Classroom’’

Fear of Being Different

Societies and cultures tend to highlight the negative aspects of being different as opposed to barely mentioning the positive ones. Could this be the reason why many women in the western society tend to wear the same clothes and accessories and carry the same handbags? A group of scientist studying this psychological and social phenomena came up with the following conclusion: “A person is like all humans in one aspect, like some humans in another, and like no other human in a third aspect;” but it is the latter, that scares us the most. Why is that?

As a professional in the fields and Psychology and Education; moreover, having worked for the last ten years with teenagers and adolescents especially with those who learn differently, I believe the real issue is not “being different”; it is the fear of being judged, criticized or rejected because of it.

Teenagers and adolescents’ main concern is to “fit in” and to have friends. These two issues often become their main measure of self-worth. Being singled out for any reason can be devastating at this point in time. Moreover, teens and adolescents begin to separate from their families and turn to friends for support, advise and even their sense of identity. The question “am I ok?” becomes their primary focus to the point that they are blinded by it. Where do I sit at lunch, who talks to me, what party do I get invited to is more important to a youngsters self-image than what parents have to say, simply because “my parents have to love me”. It is the perception of “fitting in” that can determine if a youngster’s self esteem “rockets sky high” or “crumbles down to the ground”. For those individuals who look and/or feel different than their peers, growing up can be extremely hard.

Teenagers and adolescents take at heart what society labels as “normal,” “perfect” and “well liked” and often measure themselves to those unrealistic standards. Those who see or feel different have an ever-ending battle to fight. The shy, the overweight, the not so popular, the physically or socially awkward and the learning disabled child suffer in silence, or develop defense mechanisms as ways to cope. Defense mechanisms mask the feelings of insecurity teenagers and adolescents feel.

They can even develop “attitudes or behaviors” that baffle parents and other adults. They pretend “they do not care” or even think they have no other option but to conform to what others are doing or saying even if it means behaving in inappropriate ways, for example, acting out in class, teasing or even bullying. Those youngsters that cannot cope or wish not to conform are at risk of develop eating disorders, experiment with alcohol, sex and/or drugs at an early age, or become depressed. 

Parents, teachers and adults, who interact with youth, play an important roll in their lives. To have a positive impact, we as adults need to first discover our own preconceived notions and fears about what it means to be different. Do we embrace people’s differences and our own with empathy, courage and confidence or we judge, discriminate, criticize or even reject them? Do we conform or hide behind what society dictates us? 

At DelCampo International School we aim to equip students to lead constructive and fulfilling lives while appreciating and respecting the differences in others. Tolerance is one of our core values as is care, service and responsibility towards the global community. At “The Academy” division, we not only embrace differences we see strength in them. Students who learn differently are given the opportunity to achieve the same high academic standards as those in other DelCampo academic divisions. We provide a safe environment where everyone is valued and respect. In addition, we provide the opportunity for every student to discover his or her talents, to thrive academically, emotionally and socially. Our main purpose, besides academics, is for students to learn to accept their “differences” and interact with others who share the same desire to be understood and accepted for who they are.

Fairness and Equality in Active Learning Processes

How can we make active learning fruitful in every classroom? This is a question I constantly ponder upon. Understanding active learning means figuring out the best ways in which students learn. This reminds me of my years in grad school when a professor asked us if as educators we thought  we should give the same opportunities to each of our students- immediately we responded: yes, of course.

Later, he asked us to comment on differences we considered between fairness and equality. We thought about it for a while and then he made us reflect about those two words. I started reminiscing about my childhood and thought about the Christmas gifts my brother and I used to get. An uncle of mine used to give us envelopes on special occasions- we knew envelopes contained money and always got excited about those gifts. Long ago, being a 10 yr old and getting Lps. 20 as a Christmas gift was a big deal, so I was quite happy until my brother opened his envelope and he got Lps. 100. My brother is 7 yrs older than me and my mom then explained my brother needed more money than what I did hence the difference in the amount of money in the envelopes.

When my professor asked about fairness and equality I couldn’t avoid thinking about the Christmas envelopes. My uncle was clever in giving each what we needed. He treated us equally by giving us both gifts and was fair enough to give us what we each needed. My brother was at an age where he would go out with friends and spend more, I wasn´t- as I would hang out with my mom at all times.

When thinking about active learning processes, educational opportunities and activities that will enhance learning I realize it’s the same fairness and equality that we have to take into account when planning and teaching. Not everyone learns the same way, not everyone has the same needs.

Planning to fit student´s needs is a great beginning point to be fair and equal with every learner.  Some students learn best after the teacher´s explanation, others with a peer, others are visual learners and others learn by doing. So I wonder, why don´t we give each student what they need. How are you being fair and equal in your class? Think about time for exercises, type of questions one gives-analyze your strategies. There are so many ways in which we believe we are giving everyone the same but are we really?

Active learning is a simple and effective way to ensure everyone learns. While some interact with peers, I can give an instruction to the ones who need it most; I may vary the activities so that each student gets a chance to grasp learning. In other words, through active learning I allow the student to process at his/her own time and ability what just happened in the classroom. Let´s try it!

As for me, I will keep thinking about what I have been doing in the classroom, how can I make it a better learning environment for all, about the activities I plan, are they adequate to all the learning styles my students have? Tough cookie but a real challenge for teachers like us, right?

Raising a Reader

Reading is one of the most important skills for your child to acquire. It is the key to almost everything done here at school. As parents we can follow suggestions at home to raise a child who loves reading. 

  • Read together everyday spending time talking about your day, stories, pictures, and words.
  • Share conversations every time you are together. Introduce new and interesting words at every opportunity.
  • Practice the alphabet by pointing out letters wherever you see them and by reading alphabet books.
  • Let your child see you as a parent reading and writing as often as possible.
  • Use blocks, whiteboards, plastic letters, or magnetic letters to help your child touch and see letters as he learns them.
  • Buy books instead of toys to your child.

Children can learn many things from books about size, colors, shapes, about what things look like and about people and their lives. If you don´t enjoy reading, you need to show your child that reading is important. You can have books around the house and you can tell your children that you wish you had the chance to learn to like reading. When we read aloud to them they can hear correct pronunciation as they see the words on the story, even if they can't yet read the words on their own. Children who enjoy reading are likely to become confident and independent learners.

As a parent, reading to your child is one of the most important things you can do to prepare them with a solid foundation for academic excellence.

Homework…the Big Issue Amongst Parents and School

As a school administrator at DelCampo International School, I often get concerns from parents about the load of work their child takes home. On one side, I get parents who believe their children are not getting enough homework as they believe the more the better; and on the other hand I get parents who believe their children get too much homework.

So the question is…who is right? The parent who believes that students should be over whelmed with work after school or the parent who believes too much of a load is bad for the student? Here at DelCampo, we do not believe in the load of homework a child gets, but in how meaningful the task is for the child. As a matter of fact, according to a research by Richard Walker, an educational Psychologist, “Children who do more homework actually perform worse on standardized tests” He also suggests that it is the high school student who only benefits from a couple of hours of homework everyday. Younger students or students from 1st grade to 8th grade actually benefit more from small assignments only. And this is what DelCampo believes.

DelCampo believes, as stated in our Student Handbook that:

  • 1st and 2nd graders should get 10 to 20 minutes of homework time
  • 3rd and 4th graders should get 30 to 40 minutes of homework time
  • 5th and 6th graders should get 50 to 60 minutes of homework time
  • 7th and 8th graders should get 70 to 90 minutes of homework time

The amount of homework each child gets depends on the grade they are in. But where did DelCampo come up with these numbers? Well, we actually got them from a study done by Social Psychologist Harris Cooper, who suggests that teachers should give 10 minutes of homework each night, per grade level starting with first grade. It is our wish as a school that each child has enough time to spend with his or her family rather than spending the rest of their day in “Busy Work” assigned to do at home.

Although, we understand that for a great number of parents, a good load of homework means good instruction, it is imperative for these parents to understand that more is not always better.

I have often observed how parents actually panic over the fact that their children do not get “enough assignments” for homework. They believe, that a school, which does not assign enough homework, is not a rigorous one. It is our duty as a school, to let these parents know that a big load does not mean better learning. On the contrary, the child needs to have the time after school and during the weekends to develop the skills that will make him or her a well-rounded human once he or she grows up. Skills that are only developed from his or her playtime or from the time they spend in meaningful activities with others. 

In conclusion, at DelCampo we believe that busy work assigned at home or a big load of homework as stated by Dr. Etta Kralovec is only an overburden on children, it disrupts the family and the interaction of its members and it limits learning. We believe that in order for children to benefit from this, homework does not need to exceed the 10-minute per grade limit.

And Please do not get us wrong, at DelCampo we do not believe in “the no homework” policy, on the contrary, we believe that when children are given the right amount of time worth of homework to practice their new learning greater things are accomplished by the student one of them being spending more time with other members of their family.