Play With Me! A child who is playing is learning to experience a new world. Playing fosters a child's separate identity from their parents. It can be observed in many forms: building with blocks, making believe, exploring the outdoors and developing fine motor skills. When there is play, there‛s wonderful growth and activity in the brain.
What skills do children learn while playing?
Playing with others
Dealing with emotions
What questions encourage thinking?
What do you sell in your store?
Where are you taking your baby?
Doctor, my baby is sick. What is wrong with her?
Where do you work?
What positive responses promote “trying?”
You have worked very hard on this!
I like the way you take care of your baby (or other specific praise).
You must be very proud of yourself!
Seasonal activities to promote children's development all through the year, from Zero to Three:
Play can be defined in many different ways. For most adults, play is often associated with fun recreational activities, such as playing golf or tennis. A good basic definition of play is “a spontaneous, undirected activity that is performed mainly for enjoyment or diversion.” For young children play is actually much, much more!
Play is a dynamic process that develops and changes as it becomes increasingly more varied and complex. It is considered a key facilitator for learning and development across domains, and reflects the social and cultural contexts in which children live (Christie, 2001; Fromberg, 1998, 2002; Hughes, 1999, in press). Theorists, regardless of their orientation, agree that play occupies a central role in children's lives. They also suggest that the absence of play is an obstacle to the development of healthy and creative individuals. Play Promotes Physical Development As children play, they are constantly perfecting their abilities and creating their own physical challenges. For instance, have you ever had a child in your classroom who constantly did the same activity over and over again, day after day? An example might be the child who rides the tricycle every day during free time. Chances are, the child is working to perfect their physical abilities. The same holds true for children who play with Lego bricks every day or for those who like to use scissors to cut. These children are actually using play to help them perfect their skills. Play Promotes Intellectual Development Imagination is a wonderful thing! Through imaginative play young children begin to understand the processes of symbolic thought. For instance, imaginative play allows a big refrigerator box to become a spaceship or a sailboat. Play also helps a child to better understand the world around him/her. For instance, while playing with blocks, a child begins to understand the concepts of cause and effect, shapes, and same/different. The bottom line is when children play, they learn. Play Promotes Social Development Both dramatic play and sociodramatic play promote social development. However, they do so in different ways. Dramatic play involves roles and imitation. In other words, as a group of children plays in the DRAMATIC PLAY area, one child might assume the role of mother while another child assumes the role of baby. During play, each child imitates or acts out the role. Sociodramatic play is more involved and helps children learn to put themselves in the other person’s shoes. Normally, this type of play is demonstrated by older children. Play Helps Develop Emotional Values Play is a form of emotional release for many children. For years, therapists have utilized play therapy as a medium for helping young children express their feelings of fear, anxiety, or anger. In addition, play gives children a sense of mastery over their environment. When actively involved in play, the child is in control of the environment. This helps to foster a positive self-esteem. Play Promotes Creativity Play relies heavily on imagination. When a child is involved in creative play, there is freedom to experiment, to try different things, and to explore. Through play, children learn to solve problems with creative solutions. In other words, they learn divergent thinking. Now that you have a better understanding of the importance of play, let’s take a look at the basic developmental stages of play. There are four developmental stages of play.
Functional: simple, repetitive sensorimotor activities, such as playing with toes.
Constructive: the use of play materials that may or may not contain a theme. For instance, building with Lego bricks. One child may simply build while another may build a specific structure, such as a house or a school.
Dramatic: imaginative play that usually involves more than one child. For instance, playing house or doctor’s office.
Games with Rules: exactly what it says. This type of play is more apparent with older children. For instance, playing Kick the Can; Duck, Duck, Goose; or Dodge Ball.
As with any type of development, each child will pass through these four stages at his/her own developmental rate. Therefore, it is important for you to observe the child at frequent intervals while he/she is involved in free play.
Times shown are Pacific Standard Time. If you are in Central or Eastern Time, you will need to adjust the time accordingly.
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