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Arkansas State University

The Power of Learning Through Play

When done properly, playful learning makes education active, meaningful, engaging, socially interactive and thought provoking. Playful learning for students of all ages can be in the form of guided play, structured games, free play or self-directed play. For students of any age, learning through play encourages creativity and spurs the imagination.

An online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) – Elementary Education K-6 program from Arkansas State University (A-State) prepares graduates to pursue several educational roles and bring considerable skills to teaching, including those in playful learning. This online degree program equips graduates to prepare learners for success. Students in the program can use previous knowledge, work experience and college coursework to earn the degree at their own pace.

The Benefits of Playful Learning

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), “Play is one of the most important ways in which young children gain essential knowledge and skills.” A playful learning experience should involve the student’s agency, self-choice and decision-making. When students take on an active role in their play activities, they can expand their understanding, discover challenges, practice skills and try new ways of solving problems. Adults and young children must be able to think critically and problem solve to address complex and sometimes puzzling obstacles.

Cooperating and collaborating with others are core skills necessary to succeed in today’s modern world. The benefits of playful learning are manifold, as it does the following for students of all ages:

  • Builds social skills. During a playful learning session, students can work together towards a shared goal. Through collaboration, they learn how to be aware of the needs of others, be assertive, cooperate and negotiate. As they work through their emotions, they form strong bonds and build relationships.
  • Promotes effective communication. When students interact together via a playful learning experience, they develop careful listening, speaking and language skills. By communicating ideas and purpose to others, they can negotiate through disagreements and work on a compromise. With exposure to others and how they solve problems, students can incorporate new thought processes into their lives.
  • Encourages imagination. When students learn through play, they’re typically more relaxed and curious about their experiences, which can spur creativity while exploring a new topic. Likewise, when students use their imagination, it can help them innovate and confront life’s problems in new and inventive ways.
  • Increases engagement. Compared to a more stringent academic learning format, playful learning can encourage and engage students in ways that make learning enjoyable and positive. Through their curiosity with the subject matter, students can have increased self-confidence instead of approaching learning as challenging.
  • Expands critical-thinking skills. To effectively participate in today’s world, students need to build problem-solving, communication, collaboration and critical-thinking skills. Since playful learning with others includes interaction and exploration, the activity lends itself to important skill-building activities that can include critical thinking and other crucial skills.

How a Degree from Arkansas State University Can Help

Graduates of A-State’s online MAT – Elementary Education K-6 program are qualified for careers in the public and private sectors and nonprofit and for-profit organizations. In addition, they will be able to develop and implement instructional strategies and incorporate playful learning activities and technology into the daily instructional process to motivate and engage their students.

Learn more about Arkansas State University’s online MAT – Elementary Education K-6 program.

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