PLAY AND LEARNA CASE STUDY OF HOW PLAY HELPS CHILDREN TO LEARN BETTER, HAPPIER BECOMERESPONSIBLE PEOPLE IN THE FUTURE.CLASS: THREEAGE BRACKET: 9-11 YEARS INTRODUCTIONOne of the most overlooked parts of kid’s playtime is the developmental role it plays in theirlives. When children play, they not only learn new concepts but also develop their imaginations,set boundaries for themselves and experience new things from different perspectives. Whenchildren play with others, they also develop social skills and learn to appreciate other peoplesspace and belongings. It helps them discover how to interact and have fun with kids their age.The most important role that play can have is to help children to be active, make choices andpractice actions to mastery. They should have experience with a wide variety of content (art,music, language, science, math, social relations) because each is important for the developmentof a complex and integrated brain. This is according to some findings on that I had seen. (http://www.childdevelopmentinfo.com/development/play-work-of-children.shtml)It’s with this in mind that I took sub article 1 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child(Article 31) which states that Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreationalactivities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and thearts.My aim was to show by example how we can make play an integral part of the learning and thewhole society can see the importance of play for children.MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE ABOUT PLAYINGHaving grown up in a family of four five kids, play was very natural to me. The fact that welived in a rural Kenyan village was an added advantage to me since we had a very big space forplaying. Together with my other age mates, it was easy to develop our own games that consistedof using natural materials like sticks, stones and even tins to play a game known in Swahili“Kalongo longo” which was a game about role playing. One boy would role play the “father”, agirl would role play a “mother” while others would take the role of “children”. This kind ofplaying taught us many things pertaining to fairness, taking responsibility, and mutual respect.Even though my father who is deceased would get angry and punish me for role playing instead
of studying, the experiences of being together with my friends would force us to go and playaway from the adults who would look down on the games we played calling them “waste oftime” but to us this was the best time. As a teacher, I have seen many benefits of playing tochildren who become happier and healthier as they participate in many form of play. PROCESSI interviewed some children about how they participate in play and what they had learnt while atit. I also interviewed some parents to ask them how play had helped their children while outsideschool. I also had to teach the children about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child sothat they could understand that it was their fundamental human right to play and no child shouldbe denied a chance to play and interact with their fellow peers. IMPLEMENTATIONFirst I interviewed some children about how play is important to them during free time in schooland also when at home.TEACHER: Paul, can you tell me how playing is important to you?PAUL: Playing helps me to relax when am in school. During break time, we go out to play agame called “Run and Tag” which involves running and tagging. One pupil runs after otherpupils and if he happens to tag you then you have to start running after the others. By the timethe bell to go back to class is rung, we feel we have rested a bit.TEACHER: Do you play at home?PAUL: Yes. When I finish homework then I have to join my friend, Joel, to play a game.Usually, it has to be an indoor game because it is late and my parents cannot allow me to playlong.TEACHER: What about you Prudence, do you find playing to be important?PRUDENCE: Yes I do, it makes feel good as I play with my friends. In fact many of my playmates have become my friends.TEACHER: Do you play at home?PRUDENCE: Oh no! my parents especially my father says that I should be concentrating withmy studies instead of wasting my time playing.TEACHER: How does that make you feel?
PRUDENCE: It makes me feel sad because I have no fun. I really long to play with my friendsespecially since my neighbors’ kids play when they get home. (Prudence giving her views about playing.)TEACHER: What about you Michael, how do find playing?MICHAEL: When I play, I forget all my problems. My mother is a single parent and she isstruggling to pay my school fees. When she comes home she is tired and stressed out and thismakes me feel bad. But when I play, I forget all my problems. I get to laugh and shout as I feelfreedom.Later, I interviewed a parent Mr. Wilson, who also happens to have a son in the same school thatI teach.TEACHER: What is your view about playing?MR. WILSON: I think it’s important for children to engage in activities that will help them growhealthy. Some of these games can really help them to learn as they are refreshed and they can betaught many values.
IMPLEMENTATIONI wanted the children to participate in a game called “Run and Tag” in which one boy or girlwould run after the other children. Once they get hold of the other child, the boy or girl who iscaught is then made to run after the other until she tags another and so on and so on. They alsoplayed one of their favorite games, “skipping rope” just to enjoy themselves.To make the play include some meaningful lesson, I told them that the game of Run and tagwould teach them about the spread of the dreaded disease HIV/AIDS which affects very manyAfricans and especially in our country Kenya. I taught a bit about how the disease is spread andhow it infects and affects people. We went to the field and then started the game. (Children playing the “Run and Tag” game.)
RESULTSI interviewed the children afterwards after the game and they gave me the following answersTEACHER: Who can tell me what you have learnt from this game?TINA: Wow! We had fun. I also learnt that HIV/AIDS can spread from one person to anotherbut if you run away from risky behavior, it will not catch you!TEACHER: What about you Zawadi, what did you enjoy the game?ZAWADI: Oh yes! Running and laughing with my peers made me have a lot of fun. I wasalmost tagged but I managed to dodge the one who was running after me.TEACHER: What else did you enjoy?DENNIS: The game of skipping rope was a lot of fun. I think it also teaches us to be fair becauseeach child has his turn in the skipping and so we must practice fairness. (Children playing skipping rope)
CONCLUSIONA child who engages in meaningful play is a happy child. From my observation, it is clear thatsome children had a liking for school just because when they were in school, they had anopportunity to play! To make a child feel secure, develop self esteem, and to be a better learner,then it is very important that the child should be involved in meaningful play.What I learnt was that Play can also be used to pass important information to children. I realizedthat you can even give children information concerning a subject like HIV/AIDS in which isconsidered “taboo” subject in Africa and especially Kenya, just because it involves sexuality.But using play you can pass the information without problems. A game like “Run and Tag” canbe used to pass the information with the children having fun at the same time.According to me, play also helps children to be children in a world where children are beingforced to become and behave like ‘grown up’. But when they are let to play they are in a worldwithout limitations and can be children just as they are supposed to be.Text and pictures: Teacher Timothy Musila