Preschool & Kindergarten: Lets Save Play!
Benefits of Playing
- Physical Activity- Play gets children up and moving; it gets their minds thinking! Play could decrease the risk of obesity.
- Creativity- Free play is centered around creativity. When your child plays they are gaining creative thinking skills.
- Social and Emotional Skills- When your child engages in pretend play, they are acting out the world around them (their observations, fears, excitement, etc.) They are figuring out how the world works by acting it out. In addition, when children play in pairs or groups they are learning essential cooperation skills.
- Academic Skills- When children are playing, they are learning. They are using math skills to build towers and science skills to play in the bathtub. Children are learning invaluable skills. These skills might seem minor to adults; however, when two children enter first grade and one child has learned through play and the other child spent their early years watching TV, and playing on apps, the one with the real-life experiences will excel in their learning. While the second child, will not have the background knowledge or foundational academic skills to help them achieve success.
- Language Development- Play allows children to expend their vocabulary and increase their communication skills.
- Problem Solving Skills- Play is full of exploration and trial & error; This builds critical problem solving and self-help skills.
- Enjoyment- Play is fun! It helps children relax and release their energy.
Does your child engage in imaginary play at home?
Saving Play at Home
With days filled with school, after school activities and electronic games it is easy to overlook play. Take time to read these tips on how to incorporate play into your young child's routine.
1. Leave Them Alone
You are not your child's cruise director. It is not your job to entertain your child all day. In fact, entertaining your child all day hinders their opportunity to learn.
2. Don't Schedule Their Whole Day
Yes, there is value in putting your child into special interest and hobby groups (soccer, piano, dance, gymnastics, art, etc.) But if it comes between having more time at home and being in a group, chose staying home. Carting your child around all day does not give them the outlet to get their energy out. They are more likely to have stress and emotional outbursts. Let children relax and explore.
3. Give Them Open Ended Toys
Generally open ended toys do not have batteries or plugs; they do not make noise or flash. The best toys are ones in which children can use their imagination. Children do not need fancy toys. They are just as happy to play with rocks and sticks as they are to play with expensive toys from the toy store. Let children use household items during play; blankets, containers, books, pillows, etc.
Examples of Open Ended Toys
- Play kitchen and food
- Dress up clothes
- Toy cars & trains
- Pots & pans
- Paper, pencils, crayons, markers
4. Set-Up Play Dates
If your child does not have siblings, set up play dates with other children. This will give your child opportunities to gain cooperation and communication skills.
5. Encourage Them to Solve Their Own Problems
If your child comes to you with a problem, encourage them to try to solve it on their own first. This is great way for your child to gain high self esteem and independence.
Saving Play at School
When choosing a school for your preschooler or kindergartener, ask the school about their educational philosophy. Are they play-based? Some schools say they are play-based, but in reality they are not.
How to Tell if a School is Truly Play-Based
Ask to observe the teachers and students. What are the teachers doing? What are the children doing? Are the teachers guiding the children and setting up opportunities for children to explore and play? Are the children smiling and happy? Do the children seem engaged?
If the teacher is doing most of the work, it is NOT a play-based classroom. Children should be the ones learning and exploring. Play-based learning is chaotic. It should be organized.
Play is important but each year more preschool teachers and kindergarten teachers are given pressure to add more "academic structure" to their routines. Support teachers who keep their classrooms play-based.
Does your child's preschool or kindergarten promote the important of play?
The Importance of Play
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