“Why is my son/daughter playing all day? I really want him/her to sit down and learn”
Over the years of teaching and operating various preschools, the question and statement above is what we’ve heard from many parents. While sitting down, writing, and reciting are all important to growth and development, play is equally important as well. The National Association for the Education of Young Children shares 10 important qualities that parents should know about learning through play:
1: Children learn various skills during play such as:
cognitive skills – like math and problem solving in a pretend grocery store
physical abilities – like balancing blocks and running on the playground
new vocabulary – like the words they need to play with toy dinosaurs
social skills – like playing together in a pretend car wash
literacy skills – like creating a menu for a pretend restaurant
2: Play helps children grow strong and healthy. It also counteracts obesity issues facing many children today.
3: Play helps your children grow emotionally. It is joyful and provides an outlet for anxiety and stress.
4: Play is more than what meets the eye. Play is simple and complex. There are many types of play: symbolic, sociodramatic, functional, and games with rules-–to name just a few.
5: Make time for play. As parents, you are the biggest supporters of your children’s learning. You can make sure they have as much time to play as possible during the day to promote cognitive, language, physical, social, and emotional development.
6: Play and learning are not separate activities, they are intertwined. Think about them as a science lecture with a lab. Play is the child’s lab.
7: Enjoy the great outdoors. Remember your own outdoor experiences of building forts, playing on the beach, sledding in the winter, or playing with other children in the neighborhood. Make sure your children create outdoor memories too.
8: There’s a lot written literature and videos for families to view on children and play.
9: Trust your own playful instincts. Remember as a child how play just came naturally? Give your children time for play and see all that they are capable of when given the opportunity to be creative.
10: Play is a child’s context for learning. Children practice and reinforce their learning in multiple areas during play. It gives them a place and a time for learning that cannot be achieved through completing a worksheet. For example, in playing restaurant, children write and draw menus, set prices, take orders, and make out checks. Play provides rich learning opportunities and leads to children’s success and self-esteem.