About play-based learning: Further Discussion with Dr Stef Esterhuizen

Name of Scholar / Expert:

Dr Stef Esterhuizen

Who is Dr Stef Esterhuizen? 

I am a Senior Lecturer at the North-West University, where I act as Programme Leader of the Foundation Phase / Early Childhood Development and Education.

I had 20 years teaching experience before commencing my career at the NWU in 2005. I lecture undergraduate students and am study leader for post-graduate students. I participate in several national and international conferences and published chapters in various books. I consider myself as a life-long learner and attend and complete various workshops and courses, among others, Thinking Maps (David Hyerle), Habits of Mind (James Anderson), Six Bricks (Bent Hutcheson, Care for Education), Innovative teaching strategies (ADS), Theories of Potential (Prof Deborah Eyre), etc.

I was involved in research projects such as Schools as Thinking Communities (Prof Mary Grosser) and High Performance Learning (Prof Mary Grosser and Prof Mirna Nel). Currently I am involved in the Bafenyi Project: Early Childhood Care and Education: the holistic development of young children (Prof Mariette Koen), where play-based learning is one of the focus points.

I intensely believe that all children can achieve their maximum potential through apposite instruction that enhances cognitive and critical thinking skills. My research interest is the improvement of teaching and learning practices of prospective teachers and care-givers to enhance cognitive development in children from birth to 9 years. I strongly believe that this could be attained by learning through play from a very young age.

Click here to read the first part of our discussion with Dr Stef Esterhuizen.


What about Technology?

We are living in a digital time where cell phones, iPads and computer games are popular ways to spend time. Unfortunately parents have to be mindful about the use of screen time for their children, because of the negative influence on the social, physical and cognitive development of the young child.

Figure 8 summarises some of the negative aspects in the development of the young child.

Figure 8: Negative impact of technological devices on the holistic development of the child

Research indicates that children from birth to 2 years of age should not be exposed to screen time at all, children 2 – 5 years should have limited screen time of less than 1 hour per day.  Avoid screens for at least 1 hour before bedtime, due to the potential melatonin-suppressing effects on adults, as well as children. Some recommendations are given in Figure 9.

Figure 9: Recommendations for screen time

(WP Wahl, 2019)


Visit our Tools and Research and Other Articles pages for Dr Esterhuizen’s recommended and applicable literature sources on Play-based learning. The figures used above are also available there. 


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