Learning Through Play
Here at Hunsdon House, we are firm believers in the value of free play, sometimes known as heuristic (discovery) play. We provide a huge variety of beautiful natural educational materials and it gives us great pleasure to see each little person explore, create and discover through play. Often the simplest materials, such as sand, pebbles, grains or wool felt balls can stimulate the richest creative experience, as the children reach out to make connections between these objects and their imagination.
Some people watch children playing freely and believe there is no intrinsic value in their seemingly ‘purposeless’ activity. Especially in a nursery setting, which you are paying good money for, it may seem a waste of time.
But if you look closely, you may see that there is a very rich learning and working process going on, in which the child is exploring his environment, discovering exciting things about the properties of the world around him, creating new ideas and replaying previous experiences in his play so as to cement his comprehension of them. This is heuristic play. The word heuristic derives from the Greek word “eurisko” meaning “I discover”. It is used to describe an intuitive way of meeting challenges and solving problems in play. Play is a child's work: it is his way of gaining an understanding of the world. And since each child is unique, each will have his own timetable and agenda for discovery which is relevant and meaningful to him at different stages of his development.
As adults, we think we are the wise ones, we know everything and the child knows nothing. It is therefore 'our duty' to fill this gap with purposeful adult-directed learning activity. However, children are born equipped with acute senses, intense curiosity, imagination, and many other innate tools with which to investigate the world around them. If we present certain types of materials to a young child, in a loving and encouraging environment, she can actually teach herself many of the things she will need to know about the world. And this investigative, heuristic play takes the child into a very intense, focused state of concentration which stretches attention span and develops neuron connections. This type of play is associated with increased cognitive development and educational progress.
We would like to share some snapshots of the children's free play experiences with you. Please enjoy our pictures, click on the Play buttons to view our mini-videos, or scroll through the carousel of little explorers at the bottom of the page.