Sometimes, What We Do Isn’t Enough

Sometimes, What We Do Isn’t Enough

Sometimes, What We Do Isn’t Enough

Safe Pupils–Low or High Impaired Motor Skills–Higher Effective Learning Results

Practicing with positive and engaged children produces the biggest learning gains. Photo credit: Thomas Zimmerman/Getty Images

Many preschools take so many shortcuts and use so many tricks with their play that instead of learning more, children are acquiring less.

That’s the key message of a study published in the International Journal of the Evaluation of Childhood Development.

The study shows the lessons educators and teachers are missing out on by playing too much games or turning programs over so often.

The study, “Usefulness in Providing Children with Playful Interventions for Offending,” was based on data from the Baltimore-based Baltimore City School Partnership (BCSP) and is supported by programs such as Common Sense Education. It looked at the effectiveness of 23 programs that include teaching children good practice.

Presenting children with small prizes, songs, activities and games after they behave the way educators want them to, is one of the most commonly used strategies, the study shows. But encouraging behavior is not the sole or even the primary goal.

The authors discovered playing games and songs to develop positive interaction between children can improve learning outcomes more than teaching children to be more receptive to rewards or given rewards themselves.

Do playing games and songs produce higher learning results? According to the study, yes.

A paper published in Pediatrics this summer was commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and showed positive interactions between children and educators boosts their ability to concentrate on learning and recognizes achievement, as well as health.

Like the authors of the new study, Michael Welch, associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Georgia, believes learning from engaging play is necessary for children to succeed in school.

In the session, Welch has a group of students describe a picture and receive a reward for completing certain actions or activities. Then they show the reward to the other students, and, in the final phase, ask them to complete the task together with the teacher.

When they did it this way, the students performed better on the test and showed improved focus and grit.

Over time, like the children in the study, as the schoolchildren changed, so did how they behaved in school. A stickier environment has been found to help improve student behavior, writes Welch.

“Regardless of whether they become better behaved in school, children can do better by bringing joy into their lives. Learning and playing together engage children’s minds, bodies and hearts. Both play and learning help children become problem solvers, problem-solvers who will increase their ability to learn,” the study authors noted.

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