Episode 24: How Children Learn Through Play

This is Episode 24 of PsychCrunch, the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Download here.

What role does play have in child development? In this episode, our presenter Ginny Smith talks to some top play researchers to find out how children learn new skills and concepts through play, and explores what teachers and parents can do to encourage this kind of learning. Ginny also discovers how the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way kids play and learn.

Our guests, in order of appearance, are Professor Marilyn Fleer and Dr Prabhat Rai from Monash University, and Dr Suzanne Egan from the University of Limerick.

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Episode credits: Presented and produced by Ginny Smith. Script edits by Matthew Warren. Mixing and editing by Jeff Knowler. PsychCrunch theme music by Catherine Loveday and Jeff Knowler. Art work by Tim Grimshaw.

Background reading for this episode

The Research Digest and The Psychologist archives have plenty on play, including:

An over-abundance of toys may stifle toddler creativity
“Being Fun” Is An Important Marker Of Social Status Among Children
Fantasy-based pretend play is beneficial to children’s mental abilities
Mother-toddler play-time is more interactive and educational with old-fashioned toys
Learning in unexpected places: Elian Fink and Jenny Gibson on the importance of play in early childhood.
Child play a priority after lockdown: Ella Rhodes reports on an open letter.
A golden age of play for adults: Dave Neale on a growing yet under-explored area.

Our sponsors Routledge Psychology are giving PsychCrunch listeners the chance to discover even more ground-breaking research: free access to 5 articles of your choosing from over 4.5 million at tandfonline.com, plus a 20% discount on books at routledge.com.

Past PsychCrunch episodes:

Episode one: Dating and Attraction
Episode two: Breaking Bad Habits
Episode three: How to Win an Argument
Episode four: The Psychology of Gift Giving
Episode five: How To Learn a New Language
Episode six: How To Be Sarcastic 
Episode seven: Use Psychology To Compete Like an Olympian.
Episode eight: Can We Trust Psychological Studies?
Episode nine: How To Get The Best From Your Team
Episode ten: How To Stop Procrastinating
Episode eleven: How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Episode twelve: How To Be Funnier
Episode thirteen: How to Study and Learn More Effectively
Episode fourteen: Psychological Tricks To Make Your Cooking Taste Better
Episode fifteen: Is Mindfulness A Panacea Or Overhyped And Potentially Problematic?
Bonus episode (sixteen): What’s It Like To Have No Mind’s Eye?
Episode seventeen: How To Make Running Less Painful And More Fun
Episode eighteen: How To Boost Your Creativity
Episode nineteen: Should We Worry About Screen Time?
Episode twenty: How to cope with pain
Episode twenty-one: How To Stay Connected In The “New Normal”
Episode twenty-two: Drifting Minds — Maladaptive Daydreaming And The Hypnagogic State
Episode twenty-three: Whose Psychology Is It Anyway? Making Psychological Research More Representative