In today's episode, we chat with Dr. Bo Stjerne Thomsen, the Vice President and Chair of Learning Through Play at the LEGO Foundation in Denmark. He spent 9 years building the research agenda and organizational expertise on children's development, play, and learning to enable the LEGO Foundation to be the leading authority on Learning Through Play.
The process of "learning through play" is a long-term game. LEGO builds skills for life. Regulation, manipulation, symbol recondition, muscle building and cognitive learning are all bonus’ of learning through play. Free-play teaches children to deal with change and uncertainty which is a skill needed for success in adulthood. So, by allowing children to play, create, build and problem solve is a valuable skill needed for their future.
Dr. Bo's wise advice to parents during their children's playtime: ‘Do not set your expectations, always to be the one who knows everything, but instead acknowledge uncertainty and help to ask questions, reflect and explore ideas. The goal is to equip children to make decisions and learn. We cannot do it for them. Always reflect and say, "How can we facilitate play?". Children need time, and an open from structure, to be able to ask questions, reflect, and contribute. ‘It’s the best way for them grow up and learn to make decisions on their own.’
Educators, have a different role in play. First and foremost, the goal is to balance the instruction with project based learning and free play. Work with the school leadership to embed playful learning as part of longer sessions. Stitch topics together, embed collaboration, creativity and knowledge into that. ‘Be less concerned about failing as instructors, and just show the source of knowledge’ says Dr. Bo. Invite students to think about creative problems, projects, and collaborations. Allow them to assess what they are doing.
So, sit back and enjoy this episode of the Chatabout Children Podcast with Sonia Bestulic as she interviews Dr. Bo Stjerne Thomsen.