Integrated education – a holistic approach
“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” (O. Fred Donaldson)
Play presents children with a particularly strong opportunity for growth because it meets the needs of the whole, individual child. All domains of children’s development – cognitive, social, emotional, and physical – are intricately intertwined. Play benefits each of these skills in direct and indirect ways. Children learn and practice cognitive skills including language, problem solving, creativity, and self- regulation. Socio-emotional growth can be seen in children’s ability to interact with others, negotiate, and compromise. They also practice strategies to cope with fear, anger, and frustration. Moreover, block building, drawing, running, and
jumping all contribute to the development of fine and gross motor skills. When children have the chance to direct their own learning through play, they are able to address their own immediate and developmental needs and find activities that are most conducive to their individual learning styles.
In play, children develop a lasting disposition to learn. Having control over the course of one’s own learning, as in free play, promotes desire, motivation, and mastery (Erikson, 1985; Hurwitz, 2003). Children also learn how to seek out knowledge; play involves exploration, hypothesis testing, and discovery. What is more, all this is done in a safe, anxiety- and risk-free environment where children are free to test the limits of their knowledge and abilities with relatively few repercussions (Hirsch-Pasek & Golinkoff, 2003). They learn to have confidence in their ability to solve a problem, and they become resilient in the face of a challenge (Erikson, 1985; Hurwitz, 2003; Pepler & Ross, 1981). Play builds the foundation for a lifetime of learning.
Many of these skills, first developed through play, are crucial for success in the 21st century. There is no doubt that amassing knowledge of the world around us continues to be important in our society – and playful learning can help children to learn content-based lessons, too (for a review, see Fisher et al., 2011). Increasingly, however, to achieve success in a global economy, the individuals that make up our workforce must also be socially adept and highly creative. The “6Cs” – Collaboration, strong Communication, knowledge of Content, Critical thinking, Creative innovation, and Confidence to fail and try again – will be essential to our children’s future success. Many of these skills are not easily taught in the classroom; however, they are readily learned through play (Hirsch- Pasek & Golinkoff, 2003; Hirsch-Pasek et al., 2009; Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2008).
During play we constantly work on math and language skills. In kindergarten children learn their first letters, learn about the number line and the numbers from 0-20, get in contact for the first time with simple addition and subtraction equations (below 10), learn about shapes, and meetkunde. By workjng with play, children often are creative.
During play children are exposed to all of these subjects but in a way that is interesting to them.
Take for example the play from the photo’ below: