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Creating Learning Environments that Invite Play

gtchat 05022017 Play

Play-based learning is how children learn about the world and develop life skills through play and gifted children are no different in their need for play. Children develop cognitive and social skills by playing with other children; both age-mates and intellectual peers. Play helps children mature emotionally and gain the self-confidence to try new experiences. Gifted children may experience asynchronous development and productive play can help ease transitions in many cases.

Play is essential to developing imagination, creativity, dexterity, and physical strength. It is important for healthy brain and neurological development and  allows children to express feelings about their life. Play during early childhood engages a child to interact with their environment. Adults who interact with gifted children know how important play is to their development.

Not all play is created equal; children can play alone, play along-side others without interaction, or play by imitating another playmate. As children begin to play with others, they start to engage and learn cooperation and collaboration. Gifted children should be given the freedom to choose which type of play they are most comfortable with; even when it may be to have alone time.

A rich play environment for children will incorporate choices; what, when and where to play. It will provide opportunities for kids to invent and extend their own play. Rich play environments incorporates varied places to play; inside or outside, local or away. The experiences do not need to be costly choices. Many times a trip to a park or hiking trail will provide an enriching experience for a curious mind.

Teachers can direct play be providing resources for play; such as art materials, legos, or ipads. Elementary teachers often create various ‘stations’ from which children can choose activities; like Daily 5. Teachers can offer students mentoring opportunities when appropriate to the activity.

Can the idea of ‘play’ have relevance at the secondary level? Although it may not be thought of as ‘play’ per se; secondary students need time to follow their passions. They often complain about the strict regimen of high school; they need to experience periods of choice. Adulthood is about choices; high school students need to experience how to make and accept consequences of their choices.

Gifted children thrive when allowed to create their own learning experiences and these often begin as play. Many of our greatest success stories begin through the simple act of playing. The transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.


Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon NZST/10 AM AEST/1 AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:


Play Hints at Who We Are

Play and Children’s Learning in the Classroom

The Role of Play in Learning

What is the Teacher’s Role in Supporting Play in Early Childhood Classrooms?

Learning and Developing through Play (pdf)

The Cognitive Benefits of Play: Effects on the Learning Brain

Einstein Never Used Flashcards How Children Learn & Why They Need to Play More/ Memorize Less (Amazon)

Play in Education: The Role and Importance of Creative Learning 

Learning through Play

Balancing Child-Directed and Teacher-Directed Approaches

Why Kids Need to Play J

Different Types of Play

The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development

How to Enhance Intuitive Science Knowledge in Infants and Toddlers (Amazon)

AUS: Play Based Learning (pdf)

Sprite’s Site: Gifted @ Play: Calculate Your Leisure Profile

Jake Labazzi Playing Anthropology (YouTube 4:35)

How to Recognize, Support and Teach Musically Gifted Kids

Joey Alexander – Giant Steps (In-Studio Performance) (YouTube 10:36)

Batik’s Brain Pickings: Why I am Using PBL to Design Professional Development (Knows and Need to Knows List)

LEGO® and the Gifted Visual-Spatial Child

Learning to Play at Nerd Camp

Ditch the Worksheets, Become a Picasso, a Kindergartener, and a Gifted@play! 

Gifted Children Need the Gift of Play

Learning through Play

The Games Our Children Play

Photo courtesy of Pixabay  CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad

Homework or Play?

gtchat Homework or Play 03132015

For years teachers and parents have believed that homework was a good way to reinforce lessons learned in class, but there is mounting evidence that this simply is not true; particularly at the elementary level in it’s present form. During the early years, children learn valuable skills through play that serve them throughout their lives.

Shanna Weber, a gifted and talented teacher in New Jersey, pointed out, “Teachers confuse “rigor” with more and harder, and parents apply pressure to stay informed.” Angie French, a gifted resource teacher in Texas, added, “I think it’s associated with teachers being accountable for covering so much to met state expectations.” However, Gina Boyd, a 4th/5th grade teacher of gifted students in Indiana, reminded us that simply not doing homework does not guaranteed quality play time for all children.

Some of the negative effects of homework at the elementary level discussed included that no studies link homework to current or future academic success. Children can develop a very negative attitude toward school and learning at a young age. Jeff Shoemaker, 7/8th grade teacher of gifted students in Ohio, told us that “homework for little ones makes stress for the family and that a lot of it is useless repetition.”

The benefits that come from reducing or eliminating homework for elementary students were many. Lisa Lauffer of Creative Miracles said, “[It gives children] time to pursue what interests them. [The resulting] reduction of stress reduces anxiety and depression.” Carol Bainbridge, expert on gifted kids at, added, “Kids are free to explore topics of interest in depth.” Also, The benefits of ‘down’ time cannot be overlooked. Sometimes gifted kids just need to ‘chill’!

Check out the full transcript at Storify to see some of the alternatives to homework that were proposed. How do you feel about homework? Leave us a comment below!

gtchat thumbnail logoGlobal #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., midnight in the UK and Saturdays 1 PM NZ/11 AM AEDT to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Pageprovides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community.

Head Shot 2014-07-14About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered byTAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:



Elementary School Dumps Homework and Tells Kids to Play Instead 

No-Homework Policy Improves Home Life for Younger Students at One Chicago Public School 

When the Playful Disappoints. Notes on Primary Socialization of the Young Gifted Child

The End of Homework? Why Some Schools are Banning Homework

What Happens When an Elementary School Abolishes Homework

Why More and More Parents Are Opting Their Kids Out of Homework

Homework: An Unnecessary Evil? Surprising Findings from New Research

When is Homework Worth the Time?: Evaluating Association Between Homework & Achievement in HS Science & Math (Abstract)

Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research, 1987-2003 (pdf)

The Battle Over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers & Parents (Amazon)

Abusing Research: The Study of Homework & Other Examples

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing (Amazon)

My 5 Year Old Grandson Hates Homework & I Don’t Blame Him

Playtime Isn’t Just for Preschoolers—Teenagers Need It, Too

When Schools Cannot Meet gifted Children’s Needs

Homework Guidelines Victoria (AUS) Department of Education and Training

Cybraryman’s Homework Debate Page

Play and Children’s Learning

Heavier Homework Load Linked to Lower Math, Science Performance, Study Says 

This Is Me : Article 31 and a Child’s Right to Play (YouTube)

TED Talk: Play is More Than Just Fun (video)

TED Talk: The Child-Driven Education (video)


Flickr: Photo Credit   CC 2.0 (homework)

Pixabay: Photo Credit  CC0 Public Domain (play)

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