LET THE KIDS PLAY!
Play in Early Childhood Development is more important than most people realise
Studies repeatedly show that children’s development greatly benefits from times of free play. Free play has also been shown to enhance learning in children. Free play sessions are very important for kids.
What skills develop as children play?
Playtime has something of a double-benefit for children. Kids will practise what they already know, and develop new knowledge. Dressing up like a policeman and helping a friend or toy in a make-believe situation is enacting and working out what they already know about the police. Figuring out how to climb up a jungle gym, how to arrange blocks in a triangle or how a new toy works would be new lessons learned. Decision-making and creative thinking skills are also honed during playtime. Language and cognitive skills have also been shown to develop while children play. It’s in playtime that a child can put into practise what they have learned in the classroom or elsewhere.
Are there emotional benefits of free play?
There are definitely emotional benefits of free play. Undirected play has been shown to enhance a child’s confidence. It’s also during free time on the playground that kids learn to work in groups. This is where children learn to share and resolve conflicts. Formal teaching has obvious benefits but hardly touches on these aspects.
What are some of the physical benefits of play?
Playing helps build healthy bodies. Running around with friends or climbing jungle gyms builds muscle dexterity and coordination. Physical play decreases the chance of developing various negative health conditions. These include high blood pressure, obesity and heart disease.
How long should children play?
Young children should have large blocks of free playtime in their day. This should be for 30 to 60 minutes at a time. Regular short playtime would cut kids’ activities short. This will mean that kids need to stop playing just as they are getting engaged in what they are doing. Rather than getting bored children will find complex activities to stimulate themselves. So don’t be afraid of long playtime periods!
Let the kids play!
Even preschool has become a very results-driven, studying-to-pass-tests environment. The many benefits of free play are often overlooked. But as has been shown, playtime is an intrinsic part of childhood development. Playtime, in fact, enhances the results of learning. In and of itself it helps develop important skills and facets in children.
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