In early childhood, a lot of time is spent playing. Often as adults, we observe children playing and remember when we were little and indulged in this seemingly frivolous activity. Actually play is anything but frivolous. When children play, they develop skills, habits and attitudes that will stay with them throughout their lives.
Although they do not yet understand the concept of “work”, children often put as much energy and effort into their play as adults put into their jobs. Through play they learn valuable life lessons. A child who struggles to put a puzzle piece in the right place learns to cope with frustration. Once the puzzle piece is finally in place, the child learns to strive for improvement by tackling a second and then a third puzzle piece.
Learning occurs in all areas of development but there are at least three areas where play is extremely important in early childhood.
Play Promotes Skill Development
Dr. Arnold Gesell, a well-respected pediatrician and Yale professor, once wrote “The mind of man is handmade”. Skill development happens as infants and young children play with their toys. When a baby reaches out to grasp a rattle and then shakes it, they are beginning to develop their hand-eye coordination. A young child struggling to create the desired effect with their toy will sometimes find out that it isn’t as simple as they thought. As they work to figure out and practice the skills necessary to achieve their goal, they are developing their problem solving skills.
Play Promotes Social Development
A child’s first playmates are typically adults, but they will quickly become curious and want to interact with other children their own age. Playing with other children, a child begins to develop their social skills as well as learning the “give and take” involved in friendship. At first the child may not be overly anxious to share and may snatch a desired toy away from a friend, thus causing them to lose that friend. The child quickly discovers the value of sharing and is soon reaping the rewards of friendship. A young child that participates in organized games or sports will learn the value of team work.
Play Promotes Creative Development
Play is essential to creative development as it allows a child’s imagination to run wild. Creative play is expressed when children use ordinary items in a new or unusual way. A little girl might take mom’s blouse, belt it at the waist with dad’s tie and pretend she’s wearing a princess gown. Or a little boy might take that big box that was destined for the trash, draw on it with his crayons, then climb inside and pretend it’s a race car or a space ship. Strong development of a child’s imagination will increase their ability to think creatively and problem solve.
Play has purpose and value. It should not be considered an activity only meant to give children a break from academic learning but another opportunity for them to learn skills important to their personal development, their individuality and their ability to succeed in the future.
Home Away From Home Academy believes that every child has an instinctive need to learn from birth. It is our goal to motivate all our students to obtain a love of learning and appreciation for school through play and music. We offer many programs that will provide your child the opportunity to play, learn and grow. Get in touch with us and book a tour today.