Valuing play as learning: One ECT shares her perspective on elevating play
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > Valuing play as learning: One ECT shares her perspective on elevating play

Valuing play as learning: One ECT shares her perspective on elevating play

by Freya Lucas

October 17, 2022

Natasha Gregory, an early childhood teacher with G8 Education’s Creative Garden Arundel service, believes that society will value play more if the early childhood education and care (ECEC) profession can highlight the learning that happens when children are at play.


Ms Gregory describes herself as an advocate for play and children’s curiosity, and in her practice she places a focus on supporting children to “know how to think and ask questions, and to also be comfortable with not knowing the answer.


“I want to know their opinions, to have discussions and collaborate with them to solve problems,” she continued. “All of this is possible through play.”  


Her reflections come as ECEC services and professionals across the country come together to celebrate Early Learning Matters Week, and the 2022 theme, ‘Learning through Play’, which she says provides all early childhood professionals with the platform to educate the community around its value.  


“We changed our family’s perceptions around play through our classroom billycart building project by consistently pointing out the growth in knowledge and skills that was happening,” Ms Gregory shared.  


“A child in my classroom mentioned they’d like to build a billycart, and so months of conversations, collaborative design and construction ensued. We used digital technology to research what a billycart was and to vote on a collaborative design.”


“The physical visualisation of our construction highlighted a surprising gap in the children’s understanding – how do the elements of a billycart actually join together?”

From there, educators “took it back to basics” and spent a few days building cars with Lego, concentrating on conversations and promoting self-analysis where children were asked about how they constructed their cars.  


“After this learning opportunity, the dots were joined, and we were back on track,” Ms Gregory continued.


“We wanted the children to be actively involved in building the billycart, so we then turned our attention to developing their woodworking skills, supporting this learning with conversations around safety.”


One of the parents then hosted a “billycart building day” at the service, and the children were given free choice to participate in the building as much or as little as they wanted.  


“The final touches like paint colour were then voted on, with our educators using that opportunity to speak about the elements, and how paint will protect and preserve our billycart.”  


The billycart became a major room feature and learning resource in the classroom after the project concluded.  


“Play, particularly imaginative play, is how children make sense of their world,” Ms Gregory said, “which is why play is the vehicle we as educators need to use to help children make sense of the world.”  


This notion, G8 Education’s Head of Early Learning and Education Ali Evans said, is at the core of the provider’s Education Strategy.  


“We create environments where play supports children to explore and understand their worlds with curiosity, creativity, confidence and kindness.” 


Early Learning Matters Week runs from 17-21 October, bringing together early childhood educators, parents, carers and community leaders around Australia to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of early learning and the difference the profession makes.


More information about Early Learning Matters Week is available here. 

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