Play in Early Childhood
Research shows that children learn best in an environment which allows them to discover, explore and play. Play enhances thinking skills, social skills, creativity, imagination and language development in infants and young children.
Learning Through Play
Through healthy and cheerful play, children begin a journey of learning and prepare for life itself. Play is the natural activity of early childhood. Play is what children do and their way of life. For young children, there is no distinction between play and learning; they are one and the same. Playing is a priority in early childhood, yet not all play is the same.
Has Play Changed?
Yes, over focus on academics in preschool, overscheduling of activities, lack of good play places, violent TV programs and movies, uncontrolled use of internet, gaming and handheld devices all threaten healthy playtime, putting play at risk.
How to Promote Healthy Play
- Create safe play environments and learning toys
- Focus on the learning that happens through play
- Provide a wide variety of play experiences
When children have this kind of support, the benefits include gaining self-confidence as well as self-esteem, building relationships, language development, problem-solving, understanding rules and limits, discovering talents, sparking creativity, inspiring thinking and defining personality.
When children enter the world of pretend play, creativity and imagination begin. What is real becomes a pretend item and that item takes on real characteristics. The pretend play environment encourages the interaction of children. As the children become involved in different role-playing activities and interact among themselves, language will be encouraged and will emerge.
Playing for Life
Play is the work of children, and through play children benefit intellectually, physically, socially, and emotionally. Our complex society requires clear thinkers, playful attitudes and creativity for complex problem solving. Play help begin a lifelong love of learning, and the healthy play that you support today helps prepare children for the world tomorrow that they will work, play, and learn in as adults.