The pandemic has been particularly disruptive for early childhood learners. Bright and dynamic classrooms, games and activities with peers have been replaced by computer screens as a mode of learning. These challenges have necessitated the need to leverage technology and make learning engaging, meaningful and personalized. Many Ed-Tech companies operating in the PreK-12 segment have risen to the challenge, innovated and offered exciting learning options including simulations, animations, video learning, and content gamification.
Playful learning is one of the most important trends that has been successfully implemented in early childhood learning. While used even before the pandemic, this approach took on particular importance during the lockdown. How is early childhood learning affected by gamification, you might ask.
Why is early childhood important for a child’s overall development?
The term early childhood encompasses the age group of children from birth to 8 years old. It is a wonderful time of development and change. These years are marked by a simultaneous and integrated growth in the physical, cognitive, linguistic, sensory and socio-emotional domains of a child. All of these areas are of equal importance because they are interrelated and overlap throughout a child’s development and journey of exploring the world.
Here is an interesting fact; did you know that the brain of a child under three is super active? It establishes nearly 700 to 1,000 neural connections per second! These neural circuits support and develop a child’s sensory, motor and cognitive skills and control all of their responses. During this period, brain development is at its peak and reaches 90% of its adult size between the ages of 3 and 5! Until the age of 8, these abilities are strengthened rapidly.
Therefore, this period is essential for laying the groundwork for logical and creative thinking, problem solving, learning multiple languages, forming role models, developing motor skills and well-being. be emotional. The skills and abilities developed during these years often predict a child’s future functioning and achievements.
Let’s explore the concept of gamified learning.
Early childhood research proves that children learn best through active sensory exploration and engagement. Learning through play or play nurtures a child’s physical, social, intellectual, emotional and creative abilities. Therefore, gamification of learning and engaging young learners in creative learning activities is a powerful method for optimizing the overall development of a child.
Think of a game of Ludo, Snakes & Ladders, or any other game or sport that young children play. The factors common to all are commitment, fun, a goal and motivation to win.
When these factors are applied to learning, the result is “gamification”.
Gamification helps build learner engagement, clarifies or reinforces concepts and skills through a hands-on, activity-based approach to learning.
Gamification of learning has also proven to be an effective way for children to apply their learning and test their knowledge.
The advantages of gamification are numerous and convincing:
1. It allows for deeper engagement in learning
2. Learning becomes fun, interactive results accelerate assimilation.
3. Active learning through gamification leads to clearer understanding
4. It provides real-time feedback
Gamified learning develops early skills of observation, reflection, strategy development, decision making, collaboration, etc. It is important to note that this strategy does not depend solely on technological integration. Any creative activity that incorporates the key elements of play-based learning reaps the benefits that this approach offers. Classroom or home learning environments can incorporate some elements and easily adopt this approach. The best combination of elements is one that ensures engagement, meets the learning needs of the child, and creates enthusiasm and motivation for the task.
Some ideas for incorporating this method include the use of board games, puzzles, bingo, crossword puzzles, outdoor games, role playing, puppets, music and movement, and creative activities, integrating different disciplines such as art and math or music and language to ensure that learning is engaging and gamified. Maximizing screenless learning for our young children is imperative, as this is the time when children learn best through activities and sensory exploration of their immediate surroundings.
Caring for a child in its early formative years is a task that requires patience, thoughtful initiative, and an environment that allows a child to flourish and grow holistically. Various strategies, resources and tools are deployed by parents and educators. Gamified learning is one such proven method that encapsulates multiple positive qualities such as healthy competition, creative and logical thinking, encourages social interactions, and gives learners a sense of ownership of their learning. Gamification for early childhood learners is effective because while it encourages the learner to use their existing knowledge and skills to complete a challenge, it also triggers elements of excitement, joy and a sense of accomplishment to achieve. an objective.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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