Why Play is Important
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2007 report stresses that play is important for healthy child development. This clinical report also cautions that hurried lifestyles, heavy academic and extracurricular commitments threaten our children's cognitive, physical, social and emotional wellbeing.
The full report can be downloaded online at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/119/1/182.full.pdf
Among the specific guidelines, the report suggests:
Free play is a healthy, essential part of childhood and all children should be afforded ample, unscheduled, independent, nonscreen time that is child driven rather than adult directed.
Parents can be supportive and nurturing by playing with their children.
"True toys" such as blocks and dolls, allow children to use their imagination fully, rather than passive toys that require limited imagination.
Parents should not passively accept claims by marketers and advertisers about products or interventions designed to produce smarter kids.
Children should have an academic schedule that is appropriately challenging and extracurricular exposures that offer appropriate balance. What is appropriate has to be determined individually for each child on the basis of their unique needs, skills, and temperament.
Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers. As they master their world, play helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced con?dence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges. Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve con?icts, and to learn self-advocacy skills. When play is allowed to be child driven, children practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover their own areas of interest, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue.
Article Source: Clinical Report, American Academy of Pediatrics
Excerpt from The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds
PEDIATRICS Volume119, Number 1, January 2007 p183
This preschool emphasizes "learning through play" which develops many of the necessary skills for later life. These skills come about when the need for freedom and guidance is recognized. RPEP provides a play-based curriculum that:
Supports the development of the whole child: social, emotional, physical and intellectual.
Allows for each child's unique learning style, abilities and developmental level.
Provides hands-on learning. The curriculum emerges from the children's interests, needs and desires, making learning concrete and meaningful.
Central to our program is the belief that:
Children thrive in an atmosphere of trust where they are provided support in a safe and gentle environment.
A child's self-esteem and ability to learn are interdependent. Children succeed when they have a strong sense of self. Therefore, we believe it is important to foster a sense of competency and independence in all aspects of the child's being. Play is a child's "work." When learning is fun they will not want to stop.
What is a play-based Curriculum?
What does a play-based curriculum look like? What does it offer? RPEP provides opportunities for learning through play, such as:
Outdoor Play: Children need fresh air and exercise; it helps develop strong muscles and healthy bodies. Physical play develops body awareness (balance, strength, coordination) and builds confidence.
Listening Center/Story Time: Sitting quietly develops concentration and attention skills. It is also an introduction to the wonderful world of books and reading.
Block Building: Building is a bridge between pretend and reality. It provides experience in spatial relationships, opportunities for sharing, and develops large and small muscle control. Blocks also provide pre-math experience through size and shape sorting, as well as balance.
Open-Ended Art: Art provides an opportunity for self-expression and enjoyment. The process is more important than the product. Children build confidence through the fun of creating; they learn colors, and develop fine motor skills.
Cutting and Pasting: These activities help develop the muscles in little hands and fingers, which is a prerequisite for writing. Different textures, shapes and objects to glue allow for self-expression, and children enjoy their creations enormously.
Play Dough and Clay: Modeling provides release for aggressive feelings and offers general creative enjoyment. It also provides the visual discrimination of the clay shape against the background, which is a necessary skill for reading.
Water Play and Sandbox: Play in these areas encourages experimentation in texture and measurement. It also presents science and math concepts in a fun way.
Music and Movement: These provide a means of self-expression through experimentation with songs, instruments, finger plays, games and dancing. These are excellent ways for children to develop the ability to make their own pictures in their head - which is a crucial reading skill.
Dramatic Play: This type of play is used to re-enact experiences and stories, fears and feelings. It allows children to try out different roles, to sort through emotions, and promotes cooperation.
Language Communication: Communication and speech improve enormously at preschool. They are developed through all forms of play.
Table Toys: Puzzles, beads, and other games help a child develop hand-eye coordination, sequencing skills, ability to follow directions, and concentration.
Science: Objects and experiments feed a child's natural curiosity about the world around them and expand general knowledge.
Sensory Area: Various sensory-motor activities develop fine-motor skills and encourage self-expression.