A combination of the word education and entertainment, the term “Edutainment” basically means learning by having fun!
Making education enjoyable, doesn’t that sound great?
Some may be skeptical as it might seem that education and entertainment don’t share the same goals. Educational goals are often to cultivate knowledge, responsibility and maturity, training and preparing for employment and good citizenship. Entertainment might be considered as not serious enough, aiming only at meaningless fun and amusement.
So, it is reasonable to put a bit of “fun” into education?
It’s quite simple, when we find fulfillment and enjoyment in what we do, we do it with enthusiasm and motivation. This is just as true for children in their learning journeys. Educational toys and games can be the source of profound learning! In order to learn to read, write and count, there first needs to be a will. If the child has no desire or interest to learn, teaching, forcing and punishing will have no positive effect.
The way in which information is presented, is key to captivating a child’s attention, creating a connection to transmit a motivation to learn. Teachers need to be creative in their approach and adapt to different learning styles.
What are learning styles?
These relate to the way in which we learn. There are seven learning styles (visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social, solitary) which in brief, means that some people learn better with visual material, or by listening, repeating, touching and doing, sharing or working alone. Or sometimes, a combination of these. So many ways of learning just prove that there is not one method that suits all. It is essential that teachers (and parents) understand their children’s needs and adapt teaching styles to create the will to learn!
The term “Edutainment” can seem strongly associated to the use of media and technological tools to stimulate curiosity and learning, however, just as the media is one “means”, so is a book, a puzzle, a game, an instrument, or countless other objects and toys.
Here are just a few ideas of how to put these tools into practice:
For visual learners:
Puzzles – These develop problem solving, patience, understanding, bringing order among the chaos, imagining solutions and meaningful whole. It engages memory and develops logical thinking. Other games such as Scrabble are very popular to train spelling and vocabulary with a bit of arithmetic.
Picture books or stories – Books without words stimulate communication as the child tells the story, develops imagination and creativity. Also a great tool for learning a new language.
Music – Either by learning an instrument, singing or just listening, music is a wonderful source of learning, it develops creativity, or the ability to master a skill, communicate and share, build self-confidence, and also has numerous therapeutic benefits.
Sports- develops teamwork, physical awareness, self-discipline and self-confidence. Children have so much energy and playing is natural. Sports are precious in the educational benefits they bring, especially when setting goals and motivating on a personal and common level.
Construction toys such as Legos are just great to stimulate engineering, motor skills, creativity and problem solving. Chess, or other strategy games also have well-proven educational benefits. These stimulate memorization, creative thinking, math, the ability to learn new things and respect rules. They provide real experiences of rewards and punishments, promoting mental alertness and overcoming challenges. The spirit of competition as a motivation to excel.
Social and solitary learners:
Most of the above ideas can apply on an inter or intrapersonal level, without forgetting the importance of being in contact with nature and animals as an enriching and inspiring source of edutainment.
Many people believe that schools kill creativity, which is probably true in mainstream traditional education today. Thankfully, there are so many inspiring pedagogues, visionaries and teachers who share their experiences and studies to reveal the absolute urgent need to evolve and stimulate learning by developing creativity. Children shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes or being wrong because every experience can be transformed into an opportunity to learn and evolve.
By providing a fun environment in which children feel safe and loved, they will naturally learn to their best potential.