Why Play?

The past two weeks I have begun my observations in a Lebanon Preschool classroom. During my observations I have taken many notes about the classroom and school. However, there was one big thing I noticed. Most of the students’ school day is made up of free play. Whether it is centers, on the playground, or before class starts—free play makes up most of these students’ class time. So, we must ask ourselves why? Why is there so much free play? Are there benefits to this play? Should we (the teachers) add some

structure to this play, and how do we do it? Naturally, I had to find the answers to these questions, so here is what I found.

According to the 2019 article,” Validation of the Revised Knox Preschool Play Scale for the Brazilian Population.”, free play is essential to the early childhood classroom. The article states that free play is crucial to determining developmental stages of Pre-school aged children. This play also allows the teachers to see when learners are falling behind on developmental milestones. In another scholarly article, “The social behaviours of inhibited children in and out of preschool.”, the importance of free play is discussed in its relation to socialization. This article talks about how interactions with one’s peers is important to developing a young child’s social skills. It discusses the importance of free play in, and out of the school setting for these young learners.

So, how does all of this answer our questions? Well, this information tell us that that free play has many benefits to a developing child, and that it is important that this play is frequent. It also tells us that the FREE part of the play is arguably the most important part. The freedom the students’ have to explore and express themselves in the part that makes this work. You may say that these are only a few questions, and you have many more. Possibly the most important being, how does a teacher assess a student’s free play? Sadly, I will have to leave you to investigate that on your own, as I do the same. However, here is one method I like, to start your investigative journey.

Collecting and Using Anecdotal Records

This in-service suite describes how to collect and use anecdotal records to document child progress. More information is available at http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/teaching/practice/assessment/iss/collect.html We accept comments in the spirit of our comment policy: http://www.hhs.gov/web/socialmedia/policies/comment-policy.html


Sposito, A. M. P., Santos, J. L. F., & Pfeifer, L. I. (2019). Validation of the Revised Knox Preschool Play Scale for the Brazilian Population. Occupational Therapy International, 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/6397425
Coplan, R. J., DeBow, A., Schneider, B. H., & Graham, A. A. (2009). The social behaviours of inhibited children in and out of preschool. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 27(4), 891–905. https://doi.org/10.1348/026151008X396153