Monday, February 3, 2020

The Importance of Play - Revisited

You ask your child when they get home from pre-school what they did all day and they answer that they “played” all day. You worry that they are not learning what they need to be prepared to start kindergarten. In fact, they are doing EXACTLY what they need to be doing at their age – learning through play. It is the means through which kids learn to interact and engage in the world, develop new skills and enhance their confidences.
Often, we measure learning with what a child can reproduce on a test, leading to an increased pressure on young children to perform academically. However, we need to have a broader view learning, one that allows for social, emotional, physical as well as cognitive development. This is best achieved through play.

Play is an important aspect in a child’s development. Children use play to understand objects and experiences in their environment. It is also the language that they use to express their feelings and it is very important to their physical, emotional, cognitive and social development.

Physical Development: Play helps children develop physically by using their senses and muscles. They learn eye-hand coordination, they develop muscle strength, and how to use and control their bodies.

Emotional Development: Children can practice skills or express feelings that can help them manage their daily interactions and activities. It not only helps them manage anxiety but can also be a means of reducing stress and helping them gain control over their emotions. They can act out their worries and fears, and feel a sense of strength and confidence, through the safe world of play.

Cognitive Development: Play is the foundation upon which cognitive skills are built. Playing allows children to expand their use of words, numbers and abstract thinking.

Social Development: It is through play that children learn to cooperate, share, resolve conflict, recognize differences in others, and develop an understanding of (and the need for) rules.

As children’s time is becoming more structured with academics and scheduled activities, it is important to consider what they are missing out on in unstructured or pretend play.

Benefits of Play
  • Children gain knowledge of the world around them.
  • Increases problem solving skills.
  • Encourages creativity and imagination.
  • Enhances socialization skills with other children.
  • Helps them express feelings and master skills to increase confidence.
Everything children do and learn from play sets the foundation for later academic and interpersonal skills. So, let the children play and know you are doing the most important thing you can to support their development.