During the preschool day, you should see children who are playing by themselves, but you should also see cooperative play, small groups or even the class as a whole working on a project. The amount of cooperative play increases as the children grow older. Some of this play may be child initiated, and some may be teacher directed.
Working together, whether it's on a block building or planning a tea party, helps children to learn to respect the ideas of others. They develop their social skills, and social competence is an underlying goal of early childhood education. Children in cooperative play learn to contribute to joint efforts. They also learn how to problem solve by working together to find a solution.
Even though research has proven the value of play, play is at risk. With the over scheduling of young children lives and their parent's, nurturing time to play is even more important. Here’s how you can support your child's need to play:
- Create safe play environments and toys; lobby for clean, safe outdoor play spaces for all children.
- Focus on the learning that happens through play; use play as the means to teach and foster development.
- Provide a wide variety of play experiences and materials through which young kids can try new things, experiment, ask questions, talk, read, sing, dance, get messy at times, explore, and listen.
- Fuel creativity, curiosity, and the desire to know more.
- Allow time for free play in which children are choosing and directing play, balanced with structured play.
- Monitor play and step in with an idea if a conflict arises, offer a new prop when enthusiasm wanes, or redirect play as needed.
- Offer opportunities to play safely outdoors as well as indoors.
- Adopt a playful attitude, and model playing.
- Most importantly, value play! Notice and comment on children’s healthy play to show that you recognize the importance and meaning of play in their lives.
When children have this kind of support, the benefits include gaining confidence as well as self-esteem, building relationships, problem-solving, conflict resolution, expanding language, understanding rules and limits, discovering talents, sparking creativity, inspiring thinking, defining personality, and sorting out likes and dislikes. In fact, healthy, valuable play touches on every area of a child’s development.
At Helping Hands we believe in the importance of play! We hope to improve our outdoor play space with your help. Please consider donating yard sale finds, such as:
trucks, balls, hula-hoops, shovels
aquarium gravel, geodes,
gems, sea shells, river stones,
fake flowers, durable plastic animals,
funnels, strainers, baskets,
wind chimes, galvanized buckets,
lettuce spinners (for future art projects)....
While I making a wish list I guess I'll add:
Thank you all!