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Posted On: 23 June 2020 02:20 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 09:11 am

ACS Doha shares best practices on how parents can leverage the power of play

Binu Cherian
Binu Cherian
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As schools across Qatar start to look to the future awaiting the easement of lockdown, mental health experts have warned of the impact of coronavirus on children, calling for schools to prioritise play and socialising over formal lessons and academic progress, when they do re-open. Pam Mundy, ACS International Schools board trustee and Early Childhood education specialist, has shared her advice on how parents can leverage the power of play activities to drive development and learning outcomes.

Pam says, "Structuring a day of remote home learning for children of every age and stage is a huge burden on millions of families. In the case that Qatar continues remote learning in the next academic year, parents should be prepared to provide an opportunity for play to their kids at home."

"By nurturing holistic, inquiry-based learning opportunities, parents are facilitating the best learning support for their children during this challenging time. At home, parents should feel confident that they can facilitate these techniques by focusing on play. Play is meaningful; it allows children to play to make sense of the world around them and to find meaning in experience by connecting it to something already known and co-constructing it with adults."

Pam Mundy shares insight on how parents can put this approach into practice, at home and when schools return:

  • Talking to children about play: Parents should feel encouraged to bring up the topic of play, indicating that what they are doing has value and is helping to extend their current knowledge and make new connections between activities. By modelling behaviours that support the child in continuing their play, such as resilience, problem-solving and taking turns, parents are providing source material from which their children can learn and are strengthening the foundations of such learning for the eventual return to a level of normality.
  • Encouraging children to ask their own questions: Within the current situation as schools are unsure whether ‘learning at home’ will continue for the next academic year, teachers and parents can support each child to ask their own questions and develop their own areas of exploration. In this way, children are encouraged to acquire knowledge, new skills and explore the world around them at their own pace, building an understanding of themselves as a learner and as an active participant in their own learning, rather than a passive recipient of information.
  • Prompting children to answer questions too: Using questions to stimulate different skills and areas of exploration during play is also key in providing learning structure to play-time. For example, parents can experiment with thinking skills by asking prompting questions like “I wonder what would happen if you …?” and “What do you think made this happen?”. Self-management skills can be engaged with questions such as “What might be another way to solve this problem?”. And, while open-ended questions are great to encourage discussion during play-based learning, there is also the opportunity for closed questions such as “How many pieces of paper did you use?” or “Which story took longer for us to share - this one or that?” to encourage key skills in maths and English.

Source: Press release