It has been said that play is children’s work. The best part about children’s play is that they learn a great deal while having fun.
“Play” can be any spontaneous activity
Spontaneous play occurs when children do an activity freely, such as organizing a ball game, dramatic play, or a game of hide-and-seek.
Play can be an effective and enjoyable way for children to develop a variety of skills:
- Language skills—play name games, sing songs, recite rhymes, do finger plays
- Thinking skills—construct a block tower, follow directions to a game, put together a puzzle
- Small-muscle skills—string beads, make play dough figures, cut with scissors
- Large-muscle skills—play with a ball, climb, run
- Creative skills—make up stories, put on a puppet show, play with dress-up clothes
- Social skills—play games, discuss rules for their play, decide who will play
which part in dramatic play
Play can be hindered by:
- Too many structured activities—this leaves children without enough time to themselves for unstructured play.
- Too much television—when children watch too much television, their play too often mimics what they see on TV (or on the video or computer screen). TV watching also takes away valuable time for children to play and learn about themselves, other people, and their environment.
At AppleTree and Gilden Woods, we intentionally equip each classroom with learning centers that will encourage and help develop various skills through play: creative skills, social skills, large and small muscle, cognitive, and language skills. It is important that the home environment include time and space for play in these areas as well. Many toys that claim to be educational only hinder children’s true curiosity and creativity. Supply children with fun, but inexpensive materials such as cardboard boxes, wooden spoons, blankets, books, and music. Watch how much they learn through play!