Home Page

Learning Through Play

Learning Through Play

At Millstead School we value the importance of play and how it helps our children to meet their full potential. Play is a vital tool to support children to engage in an activity for enjoyment and promote learning. We ensure all children have access to play at all times.

We facilitate play throughout the daily routine to actively engage all children, appropriate to their individual needs and abilities.  We carefully plan a range of activities to reflect the children’s growing abilities and support them to explore play with their peers and adults. As our children play, we see growth in their confidence, self-esteem, cooperation, communication, gross/fine motor skills and their social interaction. They see learning as fun and enjoyable.
The role of play related to learning

By taking a closer look at children’s play, we see that it does more than stimulate physical, social-emotional, and creative development. Play is also the primary means by which children experience the world through investigation to help shape their understanding about how the world works.

How we provide a play based curriculum
At Millstead School we look at each child as an individual and carefully explore each child’s unique interests and what motivates them. We develop play activities that they are excited to take part in.

We do this by:

  • setting up the play environment to suit the needs of the children;

  • providing materials that the children want to explore;

  • creating every opportunity to develop play;

  • using teaching strategies that support each child;

  • using a range of environments to facilitate play;

  • allowing time for the children to actively explore as they play.

Throughout these planned play experiences we observe the interaction between children, their peers and adults and integrate communication targets and objectives.

Observing play
We value play in all its forms and observations may be incidental (observed in passing such as on the playground) or planned (based on targets and objectives to support the development of play skills and communication). Through close observation we often get a different insight of the child in their most relaxed state. Observation is about watching the children’s action, expression, gestures and behaviours and watching their preferred mode of communication, independence and confidence develop.

Child led play

This usually follows the child’s interest and preferences when playing, such as enjoying playing in mud and the development of a mud kitchen or playing with a favourite toy or object. For children with physical difficulties who are unable to demonstrate their particular interests, we work with the families to establish what motivates and interests them.


Adult led play

Adult led play is where the enthusiastic adult plans and develops activities as they know the child well, recognising what they enjoy and are motivated by. These are usually supported by objectives and targets to develop play skills.


At Millstead School we strive for all children to be active learners and develop independence and confidence to help them to develop important skills for life.