Children’s play a key to learning

child's play
Students at St Francis Xavier’s Primary School are loving the program.

The secret to learning really could be as simple as child’s play.

Students across the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Diocese have been taking part in a new project that transforms the way they transition to school.

The Successful Foundations program is a positive, play-based action research project that helps establish collaborative relationships between children, families, teachers and the community.

The program aims to ease the transition from pre-school to school while supporting the Catholic Schools Office learning policy.

“Successful Foundations is about developing a healthy respectful relationship with the children and us as teachers,” St Francis Xavier’s Primary School’s Sarah Dormand said. 

The Belmont school began implementing the program for the first time this year.

“It’s a two-way process and the most important takeaway is that we are agents of change,” she said.

“We’re at a precipice where we are really getting to shift the way we are approaching education because we’re right at that foundation level, and the significant thing for all us, the community, parents, educators, to keep in mind is that play is research.” 

Over the past five weeks of school, kindergarten students have been given a learning block at the beginning of each day to engage with a variety of open-ended, play challenges such as doctors surgeries, airports, florists or building environments.

The project was launched last year at 11 schools and, after great success, an additional eight schools have implemented the program this year.

Education Officer for the Catholic Schools Office Kim Moroney said, when the children immerse themselves in play, it provided a power for learning and wellbeing.

She added that the program created a great environment for teachers to observe students.

The activities allow the children to showcase their talents and teachers can learn the child’s interest and help them move into the school environment, making the change easier for the child, their family and the teachers.

“We step back and watch students so we can see all their capability,” she said.

“We’re seeing their interests and all the things they can do.

“Not just through literacy and numeracy, but socially, interaction, problem-solving, collaboration and creativity.”