Learning Through Play

 Teaching and Learning Through Play

In Kowhai, our over-riding aim is for all children to develop the learning dispositions and tools necessary for success now and in the future. This is achieved through explicit daily teaching in literacy and mathematics and rich play opportunities.

The decision to use play as a context for teaching and learning was based on the following:

  • Knowledge of children’s stages of development
  • Research into the needs of children under seven
  • Research into the benefits of play as a learning context
  • Changes we were noticing in cohorts of children starting school, especially socio-emotional skills, listening skills and readiness for   academic learning
  • Predictions about the skills young children will need as adults in the 21st century

Every day, teachers allocate three periods to literacy and maths planned around individual needs. The remaining period is spent enriching self-chosen play activities and responding to teaching and learning opportunities. These teaching and learning moments may come from any area of the curriculum – key competencies, science, social sciences, health and PE, the arts, mathematics or literacy.

The learning environment is seen as the third teacher and the Kowhai team develop their learning spaces to foster curiosity, creativity, exploration and student agency across the curriculum. Activities and learning resources are added in response to children’s interests and urges identified during play.

Through play we aim to:

  • Through a developmentally appropriate approach, further develop
    • a love of discovery and exploration
    • curiosity
    • a passion for ongoing learning
    • divergent thinking skills
    • innovation
    • problem solving
    • student agency
  • Develop each child’s key competencies including strong self-efficacy and emotional regulation.
  • Engage children in increasingly rich play with child directed learning across the curriculum
  • Extend oral language, both expressive and receptive
  • Ensure a seamless transition from preschool to school

For those who are interested in extending their understanding of teaching and learning through play, links are provided below.

I suggest you begin by listening to interviews with New Zealand neuroscientist, Nathan Mikaere Wallis then watch the slideshow and read some of the research we have made available.

Please note research referring to early childhood setting comes from overseas where children start school at 6 or 7.

The Kowhai team is dedicated to providing the very best start to school and working with you to achieve this. Please email me if you have any questions dpepperell@adventure.school.nz

Diane Pepperell

Assistant Principal

Parent Evening Slideshow
Slideshow without Audio
Slideshow with Audio

Further Information


What 3 to 7 year olds need to learn

When should a child learn to write?