As I sit on the floor and play with my granddaughters, I’m amazed at how quickly they are growing and learning. What was too hard for them last week, they now accomplish without hesitation. Where does the time go?
As a principal of a K-2 building, you didn’t go far without hearing about the importance of play in child development. Often, we discovered that children who struggled transitioning into kindergarten lacked early learning experiences. Parents and caregivers simply weren’t aware of the power of play to help children learn.
Play looks simple, but it is incredibly complex. Years of research has shown that play affects a child’s development in deep and meaningful ways. Although it’s important for school readiness skills it has many other benefits that are just as important.
5 Reasons Why Play Matters
- Builds Independence– Kids learn a great deal when they can explore. Figuring out how something works without adult supervision allows kids to try something new. Often kids will repeat the same activity over and over to solve their problem or practice a new skill.
- Develops Gross Motor Skills – Enjoying different activities helps develop physical coordination and confidence. This allows them to develop self- awareness.
- Builds Social Skills – Generally toddlers are centered on their own needs. However, giving kids opportunities to play with others is important to build their social skills. Don’t worry if you see them playing next to another child (parallel play). They will start to be more social as they get older and have more experiences playing WITH other kids.
- Stimulates the Senses – Your child’s ability to learn about the world depends on their senses. So, when planning play opportunities try to include as many senses as you can. THINK see, hear, touch, taste and smell.
- Language Skills – Play gives your child opportunities to tell you about their play. Help them by narrating their play and repeating words many times. As they play, point to the items and name them. Occasionally ask your child questions about their play.
As parents and grandparents, we should do our best to encourage play. It’s time for us to sit back and watch the amazing power of play.