AUTHOR: Becky Danielson, M.Ed. is a licensed Parent & Family Educator on staff at The Berry Patch and Whittier Wildflowers Preschool. She contributes monthly to the Family Buzz, highlighting a topic or current trend in parenting.
This month’s topic of interest is PLAY! It’s a vital part of your child’s job description and the basis of Whittier Wildflowers Preschool curriculum. Through play, children explore their world, growing socially, cognitively, and emotionally. This happens through both unstructured and structured playtime. Play is considered a best practice according to the National Association of Young Children (NAEYC). Please refer the following article for further information on the benefits of a play-based program. The NAEYC website is a wealth of information for families.
The Whittier Wildflowers staff strategically plans for learning through play with intentional activities prepared and centers available throughout the room for discovery. When your child announces he played all morning at school, he’s correct! Each activity is thoughtfully designed as a learning experience with a specific outcome.
What about playtime at home? It’s sometimes hard to resist the urge to fill in those empty spots on the family calendar with activities and classes for children. Instead, choose to play with your children or encourage them to play together! Here are the benefits.
Social Playtime offers children an opportunity to practice communication skills, learn to share, cooperate, resolve conflict, and build friendships. It’s a training ground for getting along with others.
Emotional While playing, children often act out emotions they are dealing with in life. This is a great time to help your child put words to feelings as well as guide in problem solving. Step in when necessary with comments like, “I see you’re frustrated when the tower you built out of blocks tips over. Let’s see what happens if the base is bigger.”
Cognitive Play provides hands on experiences, allowing your child to experiment and try new activities. When a skill is mastered, it can be built upon for more difficult tasks or applied to other areas of learning. Children are multi-sensory learners, using all five senses to investigate and examine their world. Developmental psychologist Erik H. Erikson stated, “The playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery.”
Unstructured play, without Mom or Dad acting as cruise directors, fuels creativity. These playtimes incorporate social, emotional, and cognitive aspects of learning. Children will come up with fabulous games and adventures. Play is a child’s work. Allow time and freedom for children to explore, even if it gets a little messy the benefits are terrific.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” —George Bernard Shaw
All the best for a wonderful start to the school year,
Becky Danielson, M.Ed.
Licensed Parent & Family Educator