Have you ever sat in an early childhood classroom and wondered why the day is compromised of time to play? I often sit in my placement and the classrooms at the daycare I work at and wonder why they are so play based. Sure, kids love to play and that is one easy way to keep them happy, but there is so much more that goes into it.
“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” -Kay Redfield Jamison
So, why is there so much play involved throughout the day?
After doing some research, I have developed a better sense of why learning in early childhood classrooms is so much based on play. By taking play time away from children, we are only interfering with their development. Supposedly, play makes children smarter and more well- behaved because it is known to improve their self-regulation and their memory. There have been studies done to see if kids enrolled in a play- based school measured the same as kids in a typical school, and the play based kids actually scored higher in these areas. Kids need this interaction with other peers because there is no better way to learn problem solving skills than through the use of play. Believe it or not, there are many different forms of play that extend all the way through adulthood learning!
Each center focuses on a different part of learning or development, so it may look like they are just playing, but they are learning through that play as well. Even something as simple as playing outside on the playground is teaching them basic skills in all of the domains- social, physical, cognitive, etc. Play is a crucial part of early development of children because they can’t learn these things and get these experiences through just sitting around all day being talked to. Next time you are in a classroom observing children playing, think to yourself what those children are getting out of it or even how you could enhance it for them.
“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” -Diane Ackerman
BARTLETT, T. (2011, February 25). The Case for Play. Chronicle of Higher Education, 57(25), B6–B9.