Posted by Mary Jimenez, Early Childhood and Community Engagement Program Manager
Play is one of the most important aspects of a child’s life. It is the time children discover who they are and what they can do. It’s creating experiences by using objects and imagination, and it also provides the child with the freedom to discover the world around them.
Children begin to explore through playing as early as infancy. Children need opportunities to explore, to play at their own pace and to direct the play. Playing on their own encourages children to create and utilize the resources in front of them. It is crucial for their development and also for allowing children to learn more about themselves.
It is also crucial for the parents to participate in the play. Sit on the floor with them and be silly. It’s a great time to encourage learning because anything can be taught through play. Ask questions about what’s happening throughout the play time. But allow the child to lead the play activities. Kids want to feel in control, and it’s one of the greatest things a parent can do during play. Child-led play can be accomplished by allowing the children to interpret things through their own perspectives. For example, if a child were asked to draw a house and they drew a circle instead of the typical image one assumes when they think of a house, give them praise them for what a great job have done drawing the house, rather than correcting them. Providing the child with praise reassures them that they have done a good job.
Overall, play is something which should be encouraged and incorporated into the daily routine of a child. Mr. Fred Rogers shares a great view point of what play is and how it is important: “Play is often talked about as if were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
For more parenting resources, visit readysetreadberks.org
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