Why is Child Initiated Play Important for Children’s Learning?


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Marian Adejokun, Founder Of ReachOut2All

Why is child initiated play important for children’s learning?

By Marian Adejokun

In early years education it is crucial for early years educators to be engaged with children’s learning and development. Supporting children from the early stages of their development needs to also have balance. The importance of play for development has been debated by many educational professionals over the years. The adult roles in children’s play appears to be challenging, especially when examining the role of the educator. A well known early years educator Tassoni & Hucker and Tucker argued that the educator’s roles includes providing opportunities for play, and that play should be balanced of both child-initiated and adult-initiated play.

Child-initiated play supports children’s creative and imaginative learning and developmental skills. This also enables them to learn first hand experiences, allowing them to choose how to use their resources. Some child-led activities start out as an adult initiated activity though by allowing the child space and time; the child may extend the resources and ideas to create their own personal experiences. It is so important to ensure there is a balance between adult and child initiated activities to meet children’s outcomes.

Adults should build on child-initiated activities, to extend further learning opportunities and enable sustained shared thinking to take place. Within the early years learning approach, direct-teaching and learning from memory in early years is not ideal as it is a barrier for higher order thinking skills to be developed, which will be needed at a later stage In children’s lives. On a good note, research by Sue Robson & Helen Tovey highlights the improvements which have been taking place in educational settings. Proactive environments and some teachers have to adapt to ensure that the space for learning and play is used to its full potential.

As an early years educator it is important for us as teachers to ensure we have a positive working relationship in regards to meeting the needs of children, by having a flexible approach towards a balance child-initiated and adult-initiated learning environment.

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