SiyaDlala SiyaFunda an opportunity for children to learn while playing

Parents may have noticed that they don’t need to force children to play and this is because children have a natural urge to do so on their own and this brings a level of pleasure and interest to them.

File: SiyaDlala SiyaFunda  a movement that highlights the importance of learning through play. Picture: rawpixel/123rf.com.

JOHANNESBURG – We all grew up playing and know what ‘play’ looks like when we see it, be it on streets in townships, in villages, on playgrounds, or in classrooms. It really doesn’t matter what cultural, economic background or community you come from - everyone played from their earliest years.

Parents may have noticed that they don’t need to force children to play and this is because children have a natural urge to do so on their own and this brings a level of pleasure and interest to them.

The Play Movement decided to combine that urge with learning, and they are launching the SiyaDlala SiyaFunda, a movement that highlights the importance of learning through play.

As a South African reiteration of Together for Play, the campaign seeks to grow a movement for play by supporting and unlocking experiences for children worldwide and contributing to their learning, holistic development, and wellbeing.

“A vast majority of businesses say they expect people to learn new skills on the job. The skills they most want to see are critical thinking, problem solving, active learning, resilience, stress tolerance, creativity, and flexibility. These 21st Century skills are closely linked to the five super skills children develop naturally when learning through play. Children won’t develop those skills if they’re just learning to repeat back facts while sitting in front of a blackboard. By learning through play (in school and out), children can become adaptable, creative learners,” said SiyaDlala SiyaFunda campaign director, Thuli Mkhwebane.

Early childhood education and care research has shown that playing is an activity where children show their remarkable ability for exploration, imagination and decision-making. While play is often described as ‘children’s work’, it is intensely enjoyable for them. The type of play children engage in and its purposes change over the course of childhood from infancy to adolescence.

“When children and young people play, they’re feeding their imaginations, negotiating friendships, making themselves stronger and finding their own ways to fix and face the problems they encounter along the way. They’re learning, growing and thriving in the present moment, while acquiring the skills that will make them successful, resilient and happy adults in the years ahead,” said Mkhwebane.

Times are changing and the way we do everything is constantly evolving at the same time, educators are re-thinking how to teach young children to tap their enormous learning potential.

“We believe that play can become a driver for social and economic progress in every community. To do so, we are persuading parents and caregivers to value and demand play for their children, while building political champions to unlock playful learning at scale,” added Mkhwebane.

The research by The Lego Foundation and Unicef further pointed out that when children choose to play, they are not thinking: "Now I am going to learn something from this activity.” Yet their play creates powerful learning opportunities across all areas of development. Development and learning are complex and holistic, and yet skills across all developmental domains can be encouraged through play, including motor, cognitive and social and emotional skills.

The SiyaDlala SiyaFunda campaign director further told Eyewitness News that: "By supporting and unlocking play experiences for children worldwide, we can contribute toward their learning, holistic development, and wellbeing. We want everyone —parents, caregivers, teachers, governments, civil society organisations, businesses, and communities - to support children to thrive at home, in school and in society.”

The campaign run in all nine provinces.

“Learning through play opens for more inclusivity as it makes opportunities available to all children, regardless of disability and background to learn. All children benefit from being outside, interacting with their environment, learning from nature, and developing through play”.

Through play and with the use of educational toys, children can learn the following:
• Problem-solving and learning cause and effect
• Learning how to play with others through compromise, conflict resolution and sharing
• Development of fine and gross motor skills
• Nurturing their creativity and imagination
• Discovering their independence and positive self-esteem

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