“Children need to play – it is part of their world that helps to develop their imagination, communication and understanding.” (nursery ed, Dec 2005)
We all know instintively that playtime is important. However, playtime can sometimes be eaiser thought than done with the busy schedules of both parents and kids in our current times. Parents work longer hours, commutes home are getting longer with road congestion, kids extra ciricular academics & activities occupy the after school hours. Before we know it, it is time to sleep and the time for simple unstructured play has passed. Why does this happen? Do we believe that play is frivilous? Is play a reward? Is play a thing to do on a lazy day when no work, activities or task lists take priority? It may be a different reason amongst us, but the realization we need to make is that playtime is indeed important! Children learn through their play. Children develop skills through their play. Children learn to cope through play. Children become better people through play!
“Don’t underestimate the value of play. Children learn and develop: cognitive skills – like math and problem solving in a pretend grocery store physical abilities – like balancing blocks and running on the playground; new vocabulary – like the words they need to play with toy; dinosaurs; social skills – like playing together in a pretend car wash; literacy skills – like creating a menu for a pretend restaurant”
“When it comes to brain development, time in the classroom may be less important than time on the playground.”
“Skills associated with play ultimately lead to better grades. In one study, researchers found that the best predictor of academic performance in eighth grade was a child’s social skills in third grade.”
“Play is not frivolous: it enhances brain structure and function and promotes executive function (ie, the process of learning, rather than the content), which allow us to pursue goals and ignore distractions.”
“Research shows play can improve children’s abilities to plan, organize, get along with others, and regulate emotions. In addition, play helps with language, math and social skills, and even helps children cope with stress.” This article has some great age-specific ideas for playful learning.