Government of Manitoba
Children play with Lego on a colourful alphabet rug. A boy who is visually impaired reads a book with raised dots, a precursor to learning to read in Braille. Sand running through the hourglasses fascinates a curious boy. A boy building with blocks greets the class bunny who has hopped over for a visit. A boy gives a thumbs up. A girl plays with colourful shapes on the classroom light-table. A girl counts and orders buttons by size. Two girls balance on a pipe as they look for frogs in a swampy area. Children create their own book illustrations using the “still life” technique. Two girls are paired during a large group activity. A boy builds with interlocking cubes. A girl illustrates her “story”. Three girls practice their letters on individual whiteboards. A boy holds alphabet blocks that spell out PLAY. Young boys explore classroom science materials. A girl using a walker smiles. Three children share a book together." An educator and 4 preschoolers enjoy a small group interaction.

"When children are calmly focused and alert, they are best able to modulate their emotions; pay attention; ignore distractions; inhibit their impulses; assess the consequences of an action; understand what others are thinking and feeling, and the effects of their own behaviours; or feel empathy for others."
Dr. Stuart Shanker

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An Action Plan for Science Education in Manitoba

Early Childhood Education

For Educators

What does the research about early childhood tell us?

Research clearly indicates that children are born ready to learn and that a child’s early years are critical to lifelong development. Providing children with a strong start in the early years will result in positive outcomes for families, communities and the province as a whole. Recent neuro-scientific research validates play as children’s natural way to learn. Pathways in children’s brains are influenced and advanced in their development through the exploration, thinking skills, problem solving, and language expression that occur during play.

Research also demonstrates that play-based learning leads to greater social, emotional, and academic success.

When children are playing, children are learning.

There is intrinsic value to play and its relationship to learning. Educators should intentionally plan and create challenging, dynamic, play-based learning opportunities. (Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, CMEC Statement on Play‑Based Learning, 2012)

Given the importance of play in children’s development, what is the role of the teacher in a play-based classroom? How do teachers actualize a play-based pedagogy?

Current research confirms that young children need a balance of child-initiated play in the presence of engaged teachers and more focused experiential learning guided by teachers. Along with many play experts, Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning recommends 45 minutes to one hour of child-initiated play per half day during the Kindergarten year.