The Value of Play
Research shows that young children learn best through manipulation of materials and hands-on experiences which are planned by knowledgeable teachers. This learning may look like play, but it is play with a purpose. In Early Childhood courses, we learned that playing is the work of children and that is how they learn. It is referred to as “PLERKING.” Play is an active form of learning that unites the mind, body, and spirit. Play provides many opportunities to develop cognitive, social-emotional, and physical skills. Children learn best not by being told what to do but when their whole self is involved.
Through play children can see how new experiences are related to previous learning. Much of what we learn cannot be taught directly but must be put together in our own way through our own experiences (active rather than passive). Play encourages an attitude towards inventiveness that contributes to being able to think up many ideas, new ways of doing things, and ways to solve problems.
Play allows children to develop skills for seeing something from another person’s point of view, cooperating, helping and sharing, as well as for solving problems. They develop both leading and following behaviors, both of which they need to get along in the world.
Play enables children to learn about learning – through curiosity, invention, staying with a task, and so much more. Children’s attention spans are amazingly long when they are interested. Children become interested in learning when they learn through play. They learn to like learning and become life-long learners.
Play provides many opportunities for acquiring these skills. Through play children learn to cooperate, learn vocabulary, concepts, self-confidence, motivation, and an awareness of the needs of others. These are just as important in learning to read as the ability to recognize letters and sounds.
At Queen Emma Preschool academic learning is playful and exploratory. Children contribute their own ideas, use their own problem- solving strategies and often pursue their own interests. Teachers are able to weave academic goals and objectives as they build on what children can do, and challenge them to try new things.
Teachers know that high standards are important and that using play to build success is what is best for preschooler’s. Therefore, play is the foundation for children’s healthy development. Both parents and teachers have an important role in fostering that development by how we interact and purposefully structure the environment for play to be a learning experience.
We respect children’s “PLERKING” because we know how important it is in developing the “TOTAL CHILD.” When school is a fun place and children are surrounded by caring, supportive, and knowledgeable adults the learning will happen! This is just the beginning of many years of learning.