Play to Learn

At TYO children have fun playing and learning. In today’s society, the importance of learning a second language, such as English, is unparalleled. However, many children, even the 4-6 year-olds that we teach in the Core AM program, begin the program with a resistance to learning English because they believe that something foreign is inherently difficult. However, the goal of our English classes in the Core AM program (sponsored by the Abdel Hamid Shoman Foundation) is to foster a love of learning, more specifically a passion for learning the English language. We cultivate this interest and enthusiasm by engaging the students in learning through play. According to a recent article published by The Conversation, play-based learning is an important teaching method which “gives autonomy to the child who is able to engage with his/her play to learn about learning.” In our own classes, we have found that the best way to teach the students is by allowing them to forget that they are learning.

At TYO, it is our aim to ensure that our kids get as much of this play as possible because although it is crucial to their learning, it is difficult to come by as a result of the close quarters and unsafe conditions they many of them live in. While reviewing lesson plans for the week, we noticed that the children were spending most of class time doing artistic activities rather than moving around and actively playing. Although artistic activities are an effective way to teach to promote creativity and fun in the classroom, play-based learning is an essential component of early childhood education. To create a balance between these two forms of learning, there was a change of plan. Instead of learning about the letter F and “Frog” through art, the children were brought outside. They held froggy jump races in which they had to not only make their way across the building jumping as frogs, but also repeat “F, Fuh, Frog, Ribbit”. They loved bouncing from one wall to the next with the knowledge that for a short time their only concern was to pretend to be frogs. The amount of laughter and joy that made its way past the shouts of “F, Fuh, Frog, Ribbit” were overwhelming. Even long after class had ended, many a frog could be heard throughout our center.

Children learn in many ways which is why it is essential to engage them in a variety of exciting activities. The Right to Play is a universal need of each child and at TYO, play is not in short supply. Often times, TYO is the only place where the children of Nablus and its surrounding refugee camps can fulfill their need to play. Because play will always be an important element of our lesson plans, learning and laughter will always be abundant at TYO.

-TYO Intern, Dari and Zahi Khouri Fellow, Michelle

This program - as part of Student Training and Employment Program (STEP!) - is sponsored in part by the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.