Play-based learning: Engaging with Education

Providing a well-rounded education helps children to realise and achieve their potential, and can be accomplished through play-based learning in early years – such as at pre-school and nursery. This type of development can help young children to engage with education and prepare them for moving into a more structured environment when they start school.


But what exactly is play-based learning?

This all stems from the fact that children are naturally motivated to play. With their inquisitive minds 

learning more about the world around them, play-based learning utilises this motivation, using play as a context for understanding more. It allows children to explore, experiment and discover new ways to solve and overcome problems – all in a way that they enjoy.

A play-based learning structure relies on participation from students and teachers alike, with teachers actively encouraging and supporting innovative learning. Teachers should assist in the play development through interactions that aim to stretch students thinking to a higher level. This can be achieved by posing questions that encourage problem solving and ‘outside the box’ thinking.

While further evidence is continuously underway to grasp the relationships and effectiveness around early years play and education, research findings do support its use.



The science of play


Choosing between a play based learning programme and a more academic approach has puzzled many experts. There are countless studies for both educational approaches, and the creative possibilities are endless. At Cumnor House Nursery our play-based learning provides a workspace for young individuals to perform at their own pace, exploring hands on with objects and games that appeal to their unique natures.

Such research does suggest that play-based learning is positively impactful on a young person’s learning, and can truly help with their development. This philosophy has been backed in a number of studies, perhaps most extensively in the 2017 study “Learning through play: a review of the evidence” by the LEGO foundation.

The study outlines that children pose an amazing, innate potential to learn. “Infants as young as a few hours old prefer to listen to the sounds of human voices over any other sound” (Vouloumanos & Werker, 2007) due to their natural curiosity and drive to understand the world around them. Sparking their imagination and inventiveness can lead to new ideas and opportunities, as well as a strong motivation to bond with others.

Children learn most effectively when they are mentally active and challenged, and can make meaningful connections in their lives – which are all characteristics of play. Play is a necessary, and even compulsory, component of a child’s brain development. Not only is it a source of fun for children, but it also offers the chance to get first hand experience when it comes to socialisation with others.

Purposeful play


Play is not a hindrance to academic learning; in fact, it can be a benefit for early years development. Adult-led play can be constructed to create deeper learning experiences that a child will remember more thoroughly – offering the chance for good habits to be formed within education, with the chance to utilise these skills later on in their development.  

Play-based learning can be misconceived as simply putting a child in a room full of toys and letting them run wild. However, in reality, a purposeful adult-led play session in a pre-school or nursery is in classrooms, surrounded by teachers. When the child is playing and making choices for themselves, this is where the deepest learning occurs.

If, as a parent, you are looking for a caring and warm environment that will support your child in their development, then Cumnor House Nursery is the perfect fit. We introduce learning and challenge through child-initiated and adult-led play to promote optimal development. If you would like to know more about what Cumnor House can offer then we invite you to get in touch.

Additionally, to help you determine if Cumnor House private Nursery is the right setting for your family, we invite you and your child to join us for one of our regular Saturday Play Schools.

020 8660 3445