Role of play in the Digital, Literacy and Numeracy Strategy

Role of play in the Digital, Literacy and Numeracy Strategy

In May, Ireland’s Literacy, Numeracy and Digital Literacy Strategy 2024-2033: Every Learner from Birth to Young Adulthood was released. This strategy sets out a clear vision and a comprehensive approach to supporting all children and young adults in developing these skills. The vision outlined in the strategy is that every learner, from birth to young adulthood, develops the necessary literacy, numeracy, and digital literacy skills to thrive and flourish as an individual, to engage and contribute fully as an ethical, active member of society and to live a satisfying and rewarding life. The strategy aims to ensure wellbeing, equitable access to education, promoting lifelong learning, and facilitating social, cultural and economic development. With International Day of Play falling on Tuesday, 11 June 2024, we look at aspects of play and play-based learning that run through this strategy.

Role of Early Years in the strategy

Within the strategy, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman and Minister for Education, Norma Foley acknowledge the “pivotal role” played by Early Years educators, childminders, teachers and Early Years settings in achieving the vision of this strategy. Their recognition of the “significance of early childhood experiences in laying the foundations for lifelong learning” is evident throughout the document.

The strategy prioritises development of the Early Years system to ensure that all children have access to high ­quality learning experiences that promote the development of the skills in question from an early age. The document provides a clear understanding of what literacy, numeracy and digital literacy should encompass in Early Childhood, and sets objectives which should be achieved in Early Years with regards to the development of these skills.

Benefits of play on learning Numeracy, Literacy and Digital Literacy Skills

The benefits of play on learning and education are highlighted throughout the strategy, explaining that babies and young children learn best through play and play­-based, active, hands-on experiences that are relevant and meaningful to them. With play, they learn many different things at the same time. What they learn is connected to where, how and with whom they learn. The strategy also outlines how play can directly influence how babies and young children learn numeracy, literacy and digital skills.

1. Numeracy

The strategy sets out that numeracy development and promoting positive dispositions must be prioritised from early childhood to post primary level. Teaching age­ appropriate concepts that advance with learners is essential. Integrated learning, child led approaches, and play are key in early numeracy. At all levels, emphasis on concepts like shape, space and data builds mathematical awareness. Introducing early numeracy concepts through play-based experiences develops spatial reasoning, number sense and problem­ solving abilities. Exploring mathematical communication and representation through finger play, songs, rhymes, puppets, stories, and picture books was recommended as a way to develop this skill at a young age.

2. Literacy

Play enhances literacy skills as it allows children to identify and understand symbols and their purpose through the use of symbols in play.

3. Digital Literacy

Through active, playful and enquiry ­led engagement, young children are supported to acquire the foundations for digital learning that are deepened and refined as they move through the education system.

Promotion of learning through play

One of the objectives set out in the strategy is to promote learner engagement and motivation in their literacy, numeracy and digital literacy learning journey. It is necessary to foster a supportive and inclusive learning community where all learners feel valued, respected, and supported. Promotion of a culture of acceptance, understanding, and support for diverse learners within the broader Early Years setting is required.

Play promotes this engagement and ensures that the diverse needs of all learners are met. Learners are empowered as active participation is ensured when learning is incorporated into play.

Conclusion

Early Childhood Ireland will continue to monitor the implementation of this strategy along with other developments. You can read the strategy in full on gov.ie. If you have any questions or queries about our work, please contact [email protected]

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