04 April, 2024

International expert: play-based learning is the future of early years education in Vietnam

International expert: play-based learning is the future of early years education in Vietnam | British International School in Hanoi - International expert play-based learning is the future of early years education in Vietnam
Known for its transformative impact on childhood development among early years education professionals, many parents in Southeast Asia still aren’t aware of the extraordinary academic benefits of play-based learning.

With more than 27 years’ experience in education across three continents around the world, Head of Early Years at the British Vietnamese International School Hanoi (BVIS Hanoi) Cerys Shanley knows children – how they think, play, and how they learn best.

“Everything that I’ve learnt, researched and experienced in early childhood development around the world, leads to play-based learning as the most powerful education for small children – academically, socially and emotionally,” said Cerys. 

“The effectiveness of learning through play is well known and respected among early years professionals – it’s widely recognised as best practice. But beyond that, there’s often a misunderstanding about what it is.”

The importance of learning through play | BIS Hanoi

What is play-based learning?

An internationally renowned creative approach to early childhood development, play-based learning is largely led by children’s questions and curiosities. Early Years educators specialise in creating fascinating learning environments to spark children’s imaginations and ignite different thoughts and questions. In a learning through play classroom like those at BVIS Hanoi, teachers build a treasure trove of resources and tools to engage students, nurturing their critical thinking, creative and social skills to lay a strong foundation for primary and secondary school.

“The role of every early childhood development professional is to engage, interact and play with each child, to provoke reactions, questions and create opportunities to find the answers – not give them the answers,” said Cerys. 

“Play-based learning develops their brain in extraordinary ways, empowering them to become confident global citizens as they grow.”

The early childhood development pioneers

Seen as having some of the greatest impacts in shaping early years education, creator of the Kindergarten, German-born Friedrich Froebel was among the first to reject the tradition of teacher-led education – which viewed children as passive learners.

The importance of learning through play | BIS Hanoi

“Friedrich Froebel believed in the power of learning through play, and recognised the influence of the formative years on academic achievement, social progress and emotional regulation,” said Cerys. “His research discovered play-based learning as the leading form of development in small children.”

Following Friedrich, Early Years theorist from the early 20th century Susan Isaacs joined the movement, describing nursery as an extension of home; she believed in the great educational value of play. In her research, Young Children are Researchers and What Happens Next, Susan concluded that “play is indeed the child’s work, and the means whereby he grows and develops”.

At roughly the same time, founder and director of the Expertise Center for Experiential Education (CEGO) Dr Ferre Laevers helped develop a five-point scale to measure growth through play-based learning: “Through this research, we know that a deeper learning takes place when there are high levels of wellbeing and involvement in play,” said Cerys.

In Vietnam, the British Vietnamese International School Hanoi – a Nord Anglia Education school - is one of the schools pioneering learning through play. The children are thriving in an environment led by internationally experienced expert Cerys Shanley, through highly qualified educators trained to nurture play-based learning. 

“The importance of early childhood development was recognised last century by passionate, forward-thinking pioneers in education. Understanding play as an integral part of growth in children is still largely misunderstood in Southeast Asia. It’s our responsibility as experts in the field to teach its importance to fully embrace each child’s potential in life,” said Cerys.

To learn more about play-based learning, tour the classrooms or speak to the early childhood development educators at the British Vietnamese International School Hanoi, contact the admissions team.