HOW CAN PLAY BE A TOOL FOR LEARNING?

Notch Hill programs are play based. This means that we use board games and card games to teach. So why would we go to all this trouble instead of getting down to a more “serious”, “old fashioned” style of learning?

“Play is the work of childhood”

The famous Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget said this in the 70’s. His point was that play is the natural vehicle for learning in children. Children play whenever an opportunity arises. Nature intended them to be like this because as they play they learn social, motor and cognitive skills. A ¬†famous study started in 1972 by the University of North Carolina’s Abecedarian Early Child Intervention Program randomly assigned preschoolers to either a play enriched preschool program or to a regular preschool program. The study found that the children in the play enriched program had significantly higher IQ’s at age five than the control group. Furthermore, over the years those children have maintained their lead. Thirty years later they have been more likely to go to college and have been less likely to be unemployed than their counterparts.

Play as a way to “unlock” the brain:

Our bodies have a primitive mechanism for dealing with situations that make us nervous. Embedded deep in our brain is the hypothalamus. One of the earliest parts of the brain to evolve, the hypothalamus has protected mankind since the beginning. Imagine you are a cave man faced with a hungry bear. You have two choices – you can fight the bear or you can run away. Your hypothalamus knows this and immediately readies the body for either scenario sending blood flow away from your stomach and skin and into your muscles. Your hearing becomes irrelevant and your vision tunnel-like. The higher reasoning parts of your brain also shut down you become entirely in the moment, ready to run like stink at a milliseconds notice. This is a natural reflex called the “fight or flight reflex”.

Unfortunately, our hypothalamus can’t tell the difference between a big hungry bear and a scary spelling test. Anxiety sets off the fight or flight reflex to a greater or lesser extent and because the higher brain is the first to shut down, it is very hard to learn when you are stressed.

When children play, it takes the pressure off and any anxiety they have towards learning melts away. Once the anxiety is gone the brain can work as it should again and the learning can happen.

At Notch Hill we have seen children blossom using the power of play time and time again. It doesn’t matter whether children are struggling in school or not. Learning through play is a natural and highly effective way to learn. If you see brilliance in your child and are wondering how to unlock it, try one of our play-based Learning Systems with our zero risk trial. Give it a go and see the results in 30 days for yourself or receive a full refund. Click here to find out which Learning System works best for your child.

 

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