Play-Based Learning is definitely a popular phrase these days.  We have used it to describe how we do things at our school.  However, this article sheds some light on how valid that term really is when being used to describe activities that we construct to direct and engage children versus when it’s used to describe letting children have total freedom to construct their own play and learn through that.

Why I Don’t Like Play Based Learning

I think it’s vital we all consider these ideas.  And, again, as I’ve said in so many previous posts, we really need to hark back to our own childhood.  Were adults constructing activities with tweezers and puff balls for us to develop our fine motor skills?  If they would have done that, would we have wondered to our childhood self, why on earth would I want to pick up a puff ball with tweezers?  Is this a means to and end?  Is it for a specific purpose?  Am I creating something?  Is it really fun?  Is it really play?

I think we should also consider how many children we recall having issues with fine motor skill development and the presence of activities like the tweezers and puff balls.  I don’t recall either prevalence of issues or these sort of activities.  And, perhaps that’s because we had more opportunities to do things with our hands and less opportunity to engage with a screen.

We should consider why we are offering the activities we do and what purpose they serve and if they are a means to an end.  Could the kids gain as many strides (or more) with fine motor development if they create something with legos without an adult present versus using the tweezers and the puff balls as an adult directs them?  And, could the legos also foster creative thought, communication, cooperation (when played with others) and higher cognitive processes?  Do the puff balls do that?

These are all really important points to consider when we plan activities for kids–and maybe that’s the crux of it, really–why do we really need to plan everything?  Why not spark their interest with an interesting book and discussion and let them process it through their play–independently.  If you’re not sure, try it and see what happens.  When you do, listen and really watch what the child is able to do on their own and how their motivation increases because of that.  Consider how many less struggles there are and how much the child gains from their experience.


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