Play-based education can help high school students tackle the challenge of math
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Today, research shows that learning of a skill through play is far superior to traditional instruction methods or the use of self-paced, online learning to help students develop critical and applied thinking skills. Last week the Association for Play and Learning Education (APLE) published “Addressing the Inflexible Future of Play-Based Learning,” a concise look at new approaches to learning through play to help students graduate from high school with creative, problem-solving and adaptive math skills.
“These play-based learning models create opportunities for children to be critical thinkers. The key to success is the development of the skill of creative inquiry,” said Dr. Thierry Noel of the University of Bath, the editor-in-chief of the book.
A play-based model requires a fundamental shift in the way students learn by linking homework, projects and activities directly to the process and natural problems faced by students.
Play typically involves games or the like that build on logical, creative and critical thinking for students to unlock insights in relation to problems that allow students to form an understanding of the process behind processes. The techniques of play-based learning are powerful techniques for critical thinking. No matter how young or old, play is a crucial component of every educational approach.
There are three key elements to the play-based learning model. First, it aligns the way students learn in an age-old, enduring way that is grounded in play, rather than developing new creative problem-solving and critical thinking techniques in long-term programs.
Second, the play-based learning approach creates increased learning levels among children. As children use play-based strategies, they begin to gain more sophisticated problem-solving skills that reflect creativity and an increased ability to explore “the deep questions,” making connections and interconnections with difficult problems that can lead to out-of-the-box strategies. This in turn leads to improved academic performance.
Finally, a play-based model focuses on increasing self-efficacy. Students must continually ask, “Why?” and “What?” while guiding their projects and learning. Many students struggle to identify intuitive solutions that reflect their unique skills. Play-based learning teaches children to look at things differently and use games to facilitate their understanding of the world and solutions to challenge-based problems.
The model’s specific focus on student-centered learning inspires students to find answers to problems. It empowers the students in an effort to create and build upon situations that require creativity and innovation.
In his book, Noel includes several assessments of the success of play-based education models in Australia and elsewhere. The results from successful programs include lower dropout rates in schools, higher test scores, improved academic performance, a better assessment and curriculum quality and stronger leadership and higher morale within the school community. Additionally, teachers and administrators report that play-based programs encourage more positive relationships and students feel closer to one another.
The conclusion drawn from these studies can be summed up like this: Play is the best way to teach children the essential skills they will need throughout their lives.