Why Children Need To Play
I so often hear when people come to tour the school “ I do not want my child to be playing, I want them to learn.” The thing so many people don’t understand is children learn a lot through play. Children learn social, language, physical, emotional and cognitive skills through play.
Play is important for brain development. It helps with imagination, language, dexterity and really a whole body experience. Children learn how to cooperate , take turns and communicate with other children around them when they play. It teaches leadership, friendship, self expression and problem solving skills.
Child care as well as bringing your children to a park where there is opportunity to play is very important. Play gives children time to explore. When children can explore and play it helps in cognitive, social – emotional and physical development.
When children run, walk, hop, explore and crawl they learn balance, muscle control coordination. All this cross movement of the body actually helps in brain development. We utilize the book Brain Gym by Paul E. Dennison Phd & Gail E. Dennison. It is all about using the body movements to enhance learning. Gross and fine motor development is enhanced through play.
Children model behavior of other children and things taught by their teachers. Building muscle strength and coordination help when children start becoming interested in sports. Exposure to many different types of physical play is important to physical development.
Children at a young age need to have positive interactions with other children in a group setting. This group play gives small children a lot of opportunity to learn. I have said in so many articles the importance of social emotional health.
When young children play, they learn cooperation skills, language skills as well as developing their imagination. For example, I was observing the children in housekeeping one day, they were playing restaurant.
Everyone had a clear role, the conversation was very imaginative from menu planning, going to buy food, cooking the food. The teachers did not stop this play to move on to the next thing on the daily schedule as she saw the value in what they were “playing”.
There was language development, social skills with cooperation, delegation and problem solving. When children play like this you can see how they all get to express themselves which aids in sense of self-worth and working part of a team. So many people forget these “playing” skills as children are really teaching us real life lessons. ( While they are still fun)
In school when we dance, play music and sing it also helps develop children’s sense of self, exploration and discovery. I love seeing the two year old’s and toddler smile as they dance away. Not only is this another time for physical activity that research says support healthy brain function but it gets the children to really show off their personalities. By three and four years old we see the same dancing and movement, but now we see singing. Singing is all about self expression, language skills and creativity.
My goal as an educator is for children to love to learn. Learning through play really is important. I see our four and five year old’s using counting bears to addition and subtraction and they love it!!! ( kindergarten first grade skills) Children’s’ abilities are endless when they fall in love with learning, and they do this through play.