Play Hard, And Learn Hard: The Value Of Play In IB Schools

IB schools pride themselves on letting children learn through play, particularly for kids in the IB PYP. There has been plenty of research done that shows the benefits of play to learning.

During play, children get to learn and explore many things. Not only does it promote independent learning through discovery, playing also builds a child’s problem-solving and communication skills! It also exercises their motor skills as they get to control and practise coordination of large body movements, as well as small movements of hands and fingers. Children can start benefiting from play at an early age!

But what does this mean? How does learning happen during play? In fact, there are various ways you can let your child play – and learn in the process.

Self-directed play

Self-directed play is when a child decides what to play, and how they do it. This is critical to a child’s learning and well-being. When children are immersed in their own self-directed play, it is because they are more interested and engaged in this particular activity. Some common examples of self-directed play are pretend-play with their favourite figurines, or drawing by themselves.

Such self-directed play can empower a child to be anything they want. They will feel like they are in control as they get to plan the story and scenes, create roles, and choose their own characters. Using imagination, children can work through their emotions as they re-enact experiences, and transform their feelings into actions in their play. Self-directed play is essential for children to learn life skills and develop higher-order cognitive functions.

Guided play

Guided play is when an adult participates in the play. During this activity, adults can address the child’s questions, or add to their learning of the topic through explanations. For example, when a child shows interest in something, the adults can provoke their thinking by asking questions, or offer them an explanation to their queries.

Besides boosting the child’s skills and knowledge, guided play allows adults to spend quality time with their children. By taking an interest in the child’s play, the adult also makes the child feel valued and important. This whole process is transformative in the boosting of a child’s playing and learning at a higher level.


Having a balance of types of play for your child is instrumental in their development.

You can head to an international school tour to see how they do it or talk to your child’s teacher to get recommendations on how to set aside child-directed and

guided play times at home. If you are thinking of sending your child to an IB school, remember to check on the international school fees and if your child enjoys the environment there!