It is well-known that play is vital to a child’s early development, many times we watch our children interacting in their favorite center or playing with their favorite toy; it’s cute and creative and they are using their imagination. Yet, what exactly is play teaching a child?
Playing is an easy way to help a child increase their attention span. While playing, children are focused on the activity of their choosing for a long period of time and not an activity that they may not be interested in. The amount of time a child is capable of focusing on a project, activity or lesson is important for when they begin Kindergarten and must be able to give their attention to a lesson plan. Playtime strengthens their focus.
Children develop social skills during their playtime. Children with well-developed social skills are able to easily adjust to situations and circumstances as they get older as well as control their emotions and reactions better. They are also at less of a risk for behavioral issues or poor academic performance.
Playtime for younger children gives them the ability to practice cause and effect, to master physical accomplishments, to ask questions and solve problems on their own. For older children, play helps develop problem-solving skills, teaches math and helps children form opinions while developing their personalities and academic abilities.
At Pecan Ranch we utilize playtime as a method of learning. A good example would be in our Pre-Kindergarten classroom where the children practice writing letters, words and names in sand and shaving cream instead of worksheets. The children enjoy the sensory play that comes with the sand and shaving cream; allowing them to draw shapes and pictures while also practicing their handwriting and letter recognition. This keeps the children focused on the activity at hand and helps beat the boredom by giving children moments to doodle.
Another good example is in our Toddler Classroom where the children take turns stacking large colored blocks into towers. The teachers cheer and encourage the children while counting how many blocks they are able to stack before letting the child run through their foam block tower. The children are also encouraged to only build towers of particular colors to help identify colors.
Playtime has some very important and valuable aspects just in helping develop a child’s attention span, social skills and as a relief from stress.
For More Information:
Care.com Five Health Benefits of Playing Outside
Education.com Social Skills
KidsHealth.org Encouraging Activity