Learning At Play

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Everyone recognizes that children aged three and four—even up to six and seven learn through play.

Around seven to ten years old, children begin to learn outside of pretend play, sensory play, and exploratory play. They still play, but they also want to read, watch the world, and talk to others.

As children get older, they become more interested in reading, working on projects, and learning by talking and listening. This does not always look like the typical play of younger children, but—when child-led—it is still playful and fits Dr. Peter Gray’s Conditions of Play.

Lucky adults have an innate understanding of how this feels–athletes and the artists describe being so focused on a project or challenge that everything else falls away and they are in The Zone. Most adults feel the same when they get lost in their work or hobbies. They lose track of time—an hour may zip by in what feels like minutes–as they immerse themselves in the activity. This is what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes in his research and writings as Flow.

This feeling of flow—being in the zone and getting lost in an activity—is an important part of the playful learning of older children. I have named this blog Learning At Play to spread the word that as children age, they still learn through play—even if their play looks different than it did when they were younger.


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Barbara Sheridan founded Barrie Forest Kindergarten and Nature School in 2012 where she facilitates a toddler playgroup, forest kindergarten and Project Based Learning group. Barbara has more than 20 years experience in developing and training professionals and parents on child directed programming and techniques both through one on one consultation and small group workshops all over North America. Barbara is contributor and resident writer for several organizations including Early Learning Explorations. She has received her Forest Kindergarten Teacher training, a Child and Youth Work diploma, a Degree in Psychology and is currently pursuing a Masters in Education focusing on innovation, creativity and sustainability. She is passionate about passing on her knowledge and experience to you.