Play-Based Learning


“Developmentally appropriate practices like play-based learning are valuable for strengthening many areas of development and learning. This topic aims to show how play-based learning can help support young children’s learning of social-emotional skills, general cognitive development, and self-regulation abilities. It also helps to clarify the relationship between play and academic learning.

How important is it? 

Play-based learning is a pedagogical approach that emphasizes the use of play in promoting multiple areas of children’s development and learning. Free play and guided play are two types of play-based learning. The former is child-directed and internally motivated, while the latter is supported by adults and geared at a specific learning goal. Although play is a legitimate right in early childhood and one of the most natural pathways to exploration and learning, young children today are having fewer opportunities to play both at home and in school. The increased emphasis on school readiness has led early childhood programs to prioritize structured activities and testing at the expense of physically active, and play-based learning. However, this traditional learning approach has not necessarily proven effective, as it was found to reduce children’s motivation to learn, and to negatively impact their attention and behavioural regulation. Considering that children learn best when they are mentally active and interact with materials in a meaningful way, play-based learning should become an inherent aspect of their home and school environment. ”

Continue learning more about play-based learning from the Encyclopedia on Early Child Development here.