Teaching Alternative

Learning through play is a concept used in educational science and psychology that defends the idea that the child acquires skills through the activity of play, making sense of the world around him . According to Lev Vygotsky, ” play is the main source of children’s development, whether emotional, social, physical, linguistic or cognitive “.

The game would give the child social and cognitive skills and self-confidence that would allow him to live new experiences and evolve in unfamiliar environments. [1] Faced with rules and a foreign environment, the child implements new strategies, adopts certain skills, thinks creatively, collaborates with his play partners and learns from his mistakes.

Free and social game

For the writing of an earlier article in Educate [2] , we met Michel Van Langendonckt, educational coordinator. It deals with the role of play in the psychology of development and in the socialization of individuals. According to him, “ the game fulfills a major role in developmental psychology in general… The game would lead to an ability to seek solutions, would help to have a positive spirit, a playful attitude towards the world. »

There are two types of games: free games and board games, both of which are equally important and complementary. “Free play, which consists of using toys independently, creating your own rules, allows personal development and the development of personality. This type of game forces you to be inventive and creative, it allows you to modulate the environment to your own needs. This is a very important stage in the construction of the individual, which often stops too quickly to give way to games with rules, that is to say board games. At that point, the individual loses freedom but gains in socialization, in culture. Games with rules are an apprenticeship in life in society since we learn the rules of life. This allows us to understand the fact that we are not alone, that we live with others. Carrying out this experience in the form of a game is painlessly practicing something very difficult..

What efficiency?

The game is therefore a medium of choice in the field of learning, because it mobilizes a large number of cognitive abilities and allows a pedagogical differentiation which bears fruit with young people who are sometimes losing ground in the face of traditional methods of instruction. The game becomes an engine of knowledge, it motivates the student to move forward in all subjects. As Ryngaert points out, games reinforce the “ desire to learn ” and the “ pleasure of knowing ” [5] . The notion of the pleasure of learning for young people is central to the process of learning through play. The game is therefore a playful and educational means at the service of school learning that it would be a shame to ignore.

The 5 mental gestures

Faced with this pedagogical richness, it is no longer rare to meet actors in the field using the game as a support for working with young people.

We interviewed Céline Clément, speech therapist at the Center de Guidance-ULB, on this subject. For her play allows the child and those around him to mobilize mental strategies in a thousand and one ways in many areas of learning! »

With games, often used in speech therapy as a learning medium, Céline Clément combines work on mental management (see box).comprehension, memorization, reflection and imagination. These 5 gestures are mobilized during all learning (school or non-school) throughout our lives .

The connection between games and mental management is therefore evident through the cognitive aspects they mobilize, but also through ” the pleasure of playing, of sharing time together, motivation, curiosity, cooperation, desire to excel… which are just as important elements in the development of the child .”

Banned from traditional practices

Traditionally banned from school practices, the game acquires its letters of nobility within the educational sciences. It therefore seems interesting to associate in class the practice of the game with traditional work. Some countries have already made extensive use of it in schools, such as Denmark, where the practice of gambling at school is explicitly provided for in the texts of the law. However, many schools or teachers believe that the game is a useless practice that will waste their time and, even worse, prevent them from following the course syllabus. Error and misunderstanding are therefore at the rendezvous and the practice of the game still seems to be uncommon in classical schools. This is due to the fact that teachers are not/or poorly trained in this area and to a certain rigidity in the teaching world.

Like any educational medium, the game is only relevant if it is used wisely and with respect for its rules. The effectiveness of the game will, in fact, be directly linked to the way and when it is used with children. It is essential that it be offered at well-defined times and that it be properly supervised by an adult (teacher, speech therapist, parent, etc.).

The role of the supervisor is essential. Both guide and observer, he is the guarantor of the proper use of the game as a teaching aid. [6] A second condition is the choice of the game. The supervisor must select games that will enable the cognitive, social and creative capacities to be implemented with the children. [7]The optimal insertion of the game as a pedagogical support will therefore be accompanied, on the one hand, by efficient training of teachers in the game in class and, on the other hand, by a relevant use of the game during the school curriculum

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