Nurturing curiosity: the importance of play-based learning

There is an innateness to the curiosity of young children. It is this natural curiosity which drives children to explore, experience and discover as they learn about the world around them and their place within it, all with a sense of wonderment and abandon.

To nurture the inbuilt spirit of exploration, St Nick’s Early Education’s approach to early education is built on the principles of a child-centred approach to experiential learning inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach to early learning which focuses on facilitating each child’s innate and unique drive to learn through play.

Benefits of play-based learning

When children are at play, they are doing so much more than “playing”. While at play, their young minds are learning important and valuable skills which serve to develop their social, cognitive and physical growth.

Play-based learning puts children at the centre of their own development by engaging their natural curiosity, allowing each child to pursue experiences based on their individualised interests, strengths and skills all while learning to make sense of the world around them.

According to the Early Childhood Australia website, “one of the greatest benefits of playing is to assist with the development of social competence. Children can build relationships, learn to resolve conflict, negotiate and regulate their behaviours. In play children usually have increased feelings of success and optimism as they act as their own agents and make their own choices. Playing is a known stress release; it is often linked to child wellbeing.”

Play-based learning at St Nicholas Early Education

Play-based learning promotes children's development  and according to Early Childhood Australia, play-based learning “promotes significant health and wellbeing benefits”.

The educators at St Nick’s facilitate play-based learning by:

  • Incorporating active indoor and outdoor play
  • Integrating movement and creative expression
  • Actively engaging in play with each child
  • Developing relationships with children and families.

Recognising the importance of acting as facilitators in learning, the educators at St Nick’s have relationships with each child and that child’s family. Working with the family, our educators develop a play-based program which creates an enriched learning environment to support each child’s journey in early learning.

Our facilities at St Nicholas provide children with many natural landscaped areas that have been designed specifically for the age of each group of children. Indoor and outdoor areas complement the local area and educators are able to create platforms for engagement with our young learners.

Our emphasis on learning begins with the children’s voices and their interest in the world around them. Our educators expand upon this interest by encouraging children to question outcomes and offer solutions to resolve problems.

Speaking of St Nicholas’ play-based learning structure, St Nick’s General Operations Manager said, “Allowing children to guide their learning through play, we engage them at a higher level. Children learn at their own pace, so our role as educators is to provide an enriched environment, time for play and support where required.”  

Each centre features age-appropriate play areas, all well resourced and inclusive of natural play spaces. In planning for each St Nicholas development we work with local contractors and landscapers to develop exciting and challenging outdoor areas featuring locally-sourced products and elements.

To learn more about enrolling your child in a St Nicholas Early Education centre, visit the St Nick’s website. You can also experience St Nick’s for yourself by scheduling a tour of the facility that interests you. If you would like to schedule a tour, contact St Nick’s at (02) 4979 1110 or  email

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Kerri Armstrong Image
Kerri Armstrong

Kerri Armstrong is Operations Manager for St Nicholas Early Education.