In Play Together Learn Together, an ebook launched at Broadmeadows Women’s Community House late last month, author Genine Clements writes passionately about the primary importance of play.
‘It is widely understood from decades of research and academia that a child learns through play,’ Genine says. ‘Play is essentially about discovering how life works, exploring the environment, people, places and things. A child moves in order to grow, to learn, to develop. They reach for the rattle they can see, hear or feel—and grasp it, pull it to their mouth to taste, to bite. It feels hard and cold. They move it and notice the noise it makes. Then they release it and to their surprise it falls to the floor.
‘When they are a little older they pull themselves up and run to get to where it landed on the floor and this time they throw it again and again—for the sheer pleasure of making it move and the enjoyment of doing it repetitively. When they are a little older they throw the object with more intention, deciding the direction they want it to go; into the bucket nearby. And they do it again. And again. Until they can be sure they can make it go into the bucket each time.
‘They ask their friend if they want to play the throwing game with them. Together they play it and chat about the game, creating a name for it, agreeing on rules and making up words and numbers to go with it. They play it inside and outside. They change it and rearrange it to suit the environment. They negotiate with more friends to join in and play … on and on. And then they drop the game and do something different.’
Genine adds, ‘It is this sequence of moving, growing, learning, developing, repeating and practising in order to refine a skill, a sensation, a thought, a feeling, a relationship which lays the foundation for a child to continue to adapt to new experiences in their lives.’
At the launch of Play Together Learn Together, Genine explained that this is the basis of the five key themes or suits in this versatile resource: Let’s Move, Let’s Be Close, Let’s Follow, Let’s Explore, and Let’s Talk and Listen.
Participants at the launch played with the cards from these five suits (you can print the 20 cards from the downloadable PDF) and discovered ways they can be used in early childhood settings such as playgroups and kindergartens, as well as in any home.
Also present at the launch were representatives from the Broadmeadows Women’s House, Anglicare Victoria managers and staff, representatives from Community Health, TAFE and Hume Shire—and Mr Frank McGuire MLA, Parliamentary Secretary for Medical Research, Small Business and Innovation, who spoke highly of the resource and his own experiences with early learning in the home and as part of an immigrant community.
The themes of Play Together Learn Together are creative and playful in tone, using plain language to explore core concepts that support the parent/child relationship. This simple resource encourages sensory, motor, social and cognitive experiences. It invites and expects the user to participate with the child. It focusses on the experiential and relational underpinning of a child’s development.
As the publisher of Play Together Learn Together, Innovative Resources hopes that this PDF resource will encourage parents and other adults to notice how they are engaging with children, to play with the quality of those interactions, and help lay the foundations for life-long learning and bonding with children.