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Importance of Play

February 16, 2011

Oh it has been quite wet here is beautiful Vancouver.

I thought I would throw in an article to curl up under a blanket and read, its short but very serious. Children learn best through play and heres the explanation stated beautifully by Stefanie of Zero to three


The benefits of play are well-known and undisputed. Through play, children are learning how things work, how to use their bodies, how to solve problems, and how to get along with others. Play is an avenue through which children can express their emotions, build relationships with others, and master difficult experiences. Play is such an important aspect of childhood that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) included the right “to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child” as one of the inalienable rights of children.However, time for and an appreciation of the value of play is being challenged by multiple forces that may limit opportunities for children to reap the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits of childcentered play. Advancements in technology have led to an increase in passive forms of entertainment, such as electronic toys and computer games. Early care and education programs face increased pressure for children to master academic skills at younger and younger ages. Parents and child care professionals are bombarded with new tools and programs designed to “accelerate” development with specialized toys or materials at the expense of age-appropriate child-driven play. In many communities, safety issues keep children indoors due to neighborhood violence or environmental hazards. As a result, children are increasingly participating in more structured, adult-driven activities with less and less free exploratory play.There is no single solution to counteract these forces, but early childhood professionals have the opportunity to promote play as an essential part of every child’s life. Unstructured, child-centered time is vital for nurturing creativity, promoting problem-solving, developing healthy relationships, and mastering physical and cognitive skills. Offering the opportunity for parent–child play is an ideal way to support and strengthen those relationships, and may be particularly important when the relationship is strained or troubled. In addition, professionals working with parents of young children can help parents understand the importance of play in their child’s lives, teach them how to use play to support healthy development, and give them suggestions for ageappropriate play experiences that promote competence and mastery. Early childhood professionals also have a role to play as advocates for children’s right to and need to play by sharing this information with colleagues, community leaders, policymakers, and others concerned about the damaging effects of the societal pressures limiting the time and quality of play in the lives of young children. Most important, children learn through play with their trusted caregivers that they are loved and important. These social and emotional skills build the self-confidence and self-esteem that lead to competent, enthusiastic learners. So, join children in their delight as they explore, discover, and learn through play!

Stefanie Powers, Editor


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