Child-Led, Play-Based Learning: Why I Praise This Type of School Classroom by Bill James
A child-led, play-based classroom is a battlefield – but not in the sense that immediately springs to mind. Professionals who use this approach are often told that children need structure and need to know where they should be working and what they should be doing at any given time, despite all the evidence that points to the contrary.
You've guessed it, advocates of child-led play-based teaching often face a barrage of opposition, often from those whose job it is to support them in the classroom. Yes, if a teacher uses the label to excuse “teaching” with no planning or intentionality whatsoever, they deserve most of the criticism that may come their way. However, when a teacher uses an intentional child-led, play-based approach to encourage creativity and inquiry, foster a spirit of democratic collaboration and, above all, create a love of learning that grows throughout their life, quality school staff should nurture and learn from the practitioner.
We're taught that a play-based approach leads to the best outcomes for children further down the track. It's time that those who were trained to use this approach stop having to defend it, and are allowed to get on and use it.
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