How a play-based summer program benefits children's emotional development

Education | 2 Jul 2020

School closure in Hong Kong during the COVID-19 pandemic has been happening over a prolonged period of time. With social distancing, minimizing outdoor activities, and the flooding of news and information about COVID-19, it is understandable that parents and children are feeling anxious and overwhelmed during this unprecedented situation. Some of the key concerns during the pandemic has been the increasing support needed due to increased stress and anxiety. Winsy Poon the Education and Parent Consultant from Fairchild Canadian Academy said, “Since the outbreak of the virus, we have received a lot of calls from parents seeking advice and support because of the stress and difficulty in dealing with children’s impulsive behaviors and emotions at home.”  In fact, parents are not the only ones feeling stressed during this time, kids are also experiencing pressure and uncertainties that may cause them to exhibit different behavioral symptoms, which in turn, trigger more parental concerns and worries.

Winsy said, “It is not uncommon to find sharing of stories from parenting groups on social media regarding children complaining being bored at home, fighting with siblings, throwing tantrums easily - basically the full package of cry, shout and scream! Emotional development is one of the most important development skills that helps children learn to cope with this difficult time and for future success.

The importance of emotional development during the pandemic

Emotional development refers to many skills that children develop over time to understand their own emotions and feelings as well as those of other people.  When children are able to recognize and then identify their feelings and emotions and express themselves, it helps them to self regulate and have better control in different situations.  Self regulation and the ability to understand others under various circumstances is an important skill down the road in life.

How play-based learning helps with emotional development

Play-based learning is well researched and has lots of benefits in terms of natural childhood development. Learning genuinely through age appropriate play enhances children to develop social skills, language and numeracy skills, strengthens motivation to learn, fosters curiosity, initiative, develops confidence, builds cognitive skill and focuses attention. 

What is Play-based learning? 

Play-based learning opens the door for children and invites them to take charge of their interests and curiosity.  A play-based program is “child-centered” or “child led” in which children are encouraged to choose their own activities. The environment for learning is the 3rd teacher. It is divided into sections or stations with different provocations happening at the same time.  (i.e.: sensory table, art and craft, reading corner, block area) 

How can Play-based learning help children through difficult time?

Play-based learning utilizes open-ended and natural materials in an unstructured format and provides children sufficient time to discover and explore.  Children work on the activity directed by their own choices and interests and are not instructed to “follow” and “copy” any prescribed rules. This process gives children a high level of autonomy to decide what to play and how they will play.  Educators and adults act as facilitators to support and inspire the children, rather than to lead and tell them what to do. The process helps children to establish a sense of self, to initiative play, solve problems and to make decisions, which empowers them to become confident and motivated learners.

During this pandemic, children’s schedules and routines are unpredictable; the above skill sets can definitely help them to better cope with everyday changes and to make sensible choices for themselves.  Emotional development takes place when children are able to work on something they like, being able to make the right choice, being happy and believing in what they can do.  Children acquire their emotional learning through applying the knowledge, attitudes and skills that they use to understand and regulate their emotions throughout the process of making responsible decisions.

The opportunity for children to genuinely play allows social and emotion skills to develop. Children imagine the world from their perspectives and learn to recognize differences between themselves and others.  During imaginary or pretend play, children get to ’try on’ different roles which helps them learn why, what and how other people think and feel. When children pretend and try to act out scenarios, they are practicing their analysis skills, exploring the world through their actions and learning how to interact with others.  It is also an effective way for them to learn how to regulate their emotions under different circumstances.  During play, children learn to understand themselves, show empathy to others, and regulate their emotions.  These skills are particularly important during this time!

In play-based schools, children are often motivated and encouraged to explore, observe and create. For example during arts & crafts time children follow their interests and focus on the ‘process’ (instead of the end product) without worrying being “wrong” or not following rules.  Winsy further commented, “there is no right or wrong in creativity. The most important thing is building trust between children and teachers. When children feel supported and respected they enjoy what they do and feel confident to express their feelings and ideas.”

Find a play-based program for your child

Fairchild Canadian Academy was established in 2016, with an aim to cultivate curiosity, creativity and confidence in each child through an inquiry and play-based approach to learning.

1.    World Travel Themed Summer Program at Fairchild Junior Academy (Tin Hau)

Each week there will be a unique theme, such as Dubai Construction and Singapore Safari. Children will get to explore a variety of activities such as sports, cooking, creative arts, science, etc. Even if you can’t travel with your children this summer, you can still let your children live out the travel fantasy and have an eye-opening experience of the world at Fairchild. 
Suitable Age: 16 months to 6 years
More Details:

2.    Thematic Summer Programs at Fairchild Kindergarten (Sai Ying Pun)

Children will be engaged in a series of exciting thematic activities while getting a chance to explore a variety of hands-on learning experiences, such as sports, cooking, reading, storytelling, music, creative arts and STEM activities in an immersive English environment.
Suitable Age: 2 to 6 years
More Details:


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