How do kids learn through play?

May 18, 2021 • 4 min read

One of the most satisfying sounds on the planet is the gentle hum of a roomful of children at play. As a primary teacher, nothing beats the steady energy of engaged students and knowing that your class is focused and happy.

More often than not, it’s play that leads them to moments of deep learning (rather than lectures, worksheets or anything else, really).

Play is a critical path to learning for young kids. It’s a self-guided expansion of their tiny universe. Play provides them with the lessons they need to succeed academically, socially, emotionally and as a gigantic added bonus, play is so much fun.

Our approach to learning through play

At Pok Pok, we set out to find a way to bring the joy and benefits of learning through play into children’s early experiences with technology. We wanted to do it in a way that had never been done before and that could have a huge impact on their learning journeys.

One of the most amazing things about play-based learning is that the experience is different for every child. Rather than creating an app that tells children exactly what to do and how to do it, everything we do at Pok Pok emphasizes and celebrates the uniqueness of every child by embracing the inherent value of open-ended play.

Open-ended play is play without limits. There are no rules to limit a child, and no winning or losing to create addiction or disappointment. Often there’s not even a specific goal to achieve, just exploration, invention and expression.

A variety of kids playing Pok Pok Playroom.
A few of our playtesters exploring the Playroom. Photos courtesy of their parents!

What can kids learn in Pok Pok?

With the open-ended toys in Pok Pok Playroom, kids have many opportunities for creative expression and are encouraged to make independent choices as they play — everything goes! Every toy in the Playroom encourages the development of cognitive skills such as creativity, problem-solving, spatial awareness, language and patterning, as well as social-emotional skills like self-confidence, trust, collaboration, patience and self-regulation.

Self-regulation is a particularly important skill. It refers to a child’s ability to manage physiological, emotional and behavioral responses in challenging situations. Kids with good self-regulation have the ability to stay focused and attentive in their daily lives. When considering typical learning conditions in nursery schools and kindergarten classrooms, children with well-developed self-regulation abilities are consequently set up to learn successfully in these environments.

In the Playroom there are endless opportunities for imaginative play, decision-making and creative exploration that all support the development of self-regulation (among other things!). As kids build, tinker, create, draw, navigate and explore, they’re also practicing self-regulation.

Kids who enter Pok Pok Playroom are presented with endless opportunities to make decisions. They get to come up with new ideas spontaneously, act on them, and experience the impact of their actions. Each of these interactions helps them improve their creativity, independence and problem-solving skills, ultimately building confidence and empowering them to keep exploring.

Something extra special about Pok Pok Playroom is that it can be enjoyed by more than one child at a time. Multiple sets of little hands can control different elements on the screen without interfering with each other, and when certain negotiations and interactions inevitably pop up, kids are encouraged to navigate these situations amongst themselves. In these moments they’re building critical social skill development (which is a key learning area in preschool and kindergarten classes) and for children who aren’t yet in school — or those currently unable to attend in-person — these sibling, parent and peer interactions are crucial, beautiful learning opportunities.

Two kids playing together on one iPad.
Two kids exploring a Pok Pok toy together.

Where do adults fit in?

We know that children won’t always have an adult playing with them in Pok Pok Playroom, and that’s absolutely okay. Because our toys make key educational learning opportunities available to the child at all times, the Playroom itself acts as a teacher!

When time permits, parents and teachers can get involved and take advantage of the opportunity to extend the learning experience by simply interacting with kids. Our in-app “Grown-Up Area” offers learning prompts that our educational team designed specifically for teachers and parents to help support children’s learning. We’ve created simple questions to ask kids that can be used in all types of play, in and outside of the Playroom.

Our learning mission

It’s really simple. At Pok Pok, we want children to love learning. Like, really love it. We want learning to be exciting, engaging, and a ton of fun!

A child exploring one of the Pok Pok toys, Musical Blobs.

As kids grow, their experiences with play become as varied and unique as they are. We recognize the importance of play and the one thing that never changes: when kids are playing, they are learning.

And so here we are, ready to fill the world with incredibly creative people — one unique learner at a time.

Stephanie Phoenix is an Educational Advisor with us at Pok Pok. She holds a Master of Arts in Child Study and Education, and is a certified kindergarten teacher-turned full-time parent to three wonderful kids.