5 Ways Active Play Supports Young Learners
When active play and learning go hand in hand, we’re not only helping students get off to a strong start in the classroom, we’re also sending a message that staying active and managing our well-being are essential parts of learning and daily life—something young students will see reinforced throughout their school years and adulthood.
In the Ministry of Education’s Kindergarten Program (June 2016), Health and Physical Education (H&PE) is no longer considered a subject in Ontario’s kindergarten classrooms. Instead, it’s a way of life, supporting young students to get active and stay active throughout the day. By taking an integrative approach to getting active and well-being, the Kindergarten Program supports young students learning by helping them to;
• Build movement skills. For example, using various forms of movement (skipping, jumping, hopping, etc.) to develop a game in an indoor or outdoor play area or classroom.
• Provide opportunity to explore and discover. For example, taking an Inquiry-based Learning approach is good teaching at all grade levels, but as kindergarten students are just beginning to explore and discover, encouraging them to ask questions and supporting them as they investigate to find answers can be especially powerful. This can resemble shifting from teaching a skill (e.g. how to throw a ball), to encouraging a child to explore how they can use a piece of equipment.
• Support development of self-regulation skills. For example, listening to their bodies for cues about when they feel hungry, when they need to move, when they need a rest, and when they need to use the bathroom, overall, reflecting their personal well-being.
• Demonstrate knowledge. For example, following rules when using equipment, or establishing new rules when creating a new activity or game.
• Demonstrate safety. For example, getting young learners involved in co-constructing safety rules while being active is a great way to have them demonstrate safety. Also, if they help create the rules they are more likely to follow them.
Helpful Resources and Tools
Not sure where to start? There are plenty of early learning resources to support you. The following resources are easy-to-use and accessible online.
• The Ministry of Education’s Kindergarten Program
• EduGAINS website
• Ophea’s Early Learning Resource: A free online resource supporting kindergarten teams with the implementation of the Kindergarten Program.
• Have a Ball Together!: An online resource guide for parents, caregivers and educators of children 0–6 years old from Best Start encouraging physical activity by providing facts, tips, and activity ideas.