Play is not only for Early Learning at Northbridge-Play is not only for Early Learning at Northbridge-Martyn Shadbolt
WRITTEN BY
Martyn Shadbolt
19 January, 2023

Play is not only for Early Learning at Northbridge

Play is not only for Early Learning at Northbridge-Play is not only for Early Learning at Northbridge-photo_2023-01-19_09-33-06
Play is not only for Early Learning at Northbridge

Take a visit to our early learning spaces at Northbridge International School Cambodia, both inside and out, and you will observe a wealth of play activities happening. Students are interacting in playing on their own (solo play), playing with the same thing or in the same space (mirrored play) or sharing together (collaborative play).

Indeed, according to the Playworld website there are 10 different types of play that students engage in. This play is an integral part of the learning at Northbridge International School Cambodia and whilst it occurs naturally, it is also specifically and intentionally planned for by our teachers.

Both inside and outside the class, specific resources are selected and stimulus given for students to explore themes, questions and concepts of science, maths and English. Recently a secure area has been developed outside the EL3 area where our EL3 students with Ms Noura and Ms Anna engage in ‘messy’ play, practicing their fine motor and sensory skills.

However, the importance of play goes beyond our early learning. Take a walk around the kindergarten to Grade 2 level and see the variety of resources used to stimulate and enhance the learning of students.

For example, in maths class you may observe students making sense of number using manipulatives such as Numicon, base ten sets and cubes. These may be used specifically to support learning around a specific subject or also for open ended inquiry play where students may be exploring a wider concept.

For example, the idea of square numbers is extremely abstract but by students exploring and constructing square numbers using cubes, blocks or lego they can make sense of the concept through visualizing and hands on ‘play’ activities.

At other times our Primary students are engaged in creative and imaginative play linked to curriculum areas such as STEAM. Watching the students at breaks, they are creative, energetic and collaborative in their play activities and it is easy to see the value and importance of this in their development. What is also significant is that they do not need equipment, toys or expensive gadgets to engage in play; imagination and creativity is all they use.

Students nowadays spend a lot of time on electronic devices and in some cases, these have completely replaced active play as a recreational pastime. The art of play is declining as gadgets take over.

In this TED talk Dr Peter Gray sets out a convincing argument of why play is necessary and how play has been eroded and declined over a period of years. On Wednesday 1st February we will be celebrating Global School Play Day in school with different activities, in class and out, to highlight to our students the importance and need for them to be playful.

So, grab that game, equipment, toy or just use your imagination and engage in some play. I guarantee you will feel better.