Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood” by Mr. Rogers.
Play is essential in contributing to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children. This can never be overemphasized. It is as it is, Children learn best through playing.
The Benefits of Learning Through Play
1.Problem solving and learning cause and effect.
This is a platform that allows children to learn how to solve problems/challenges as they would experience them whilst playing. It doesn’t have to be a formal lesson, just when they are outside playing,freely,thats when they learn best.
2. Learning how to play with others through compromise, conflict resolution and sharing.
Development of fine and gross motor skills. Also called the critical step in early childhood development. Fine motor skills start to develop when a child uses the smaller muscles in their hands, wrists, fingers, feet and toes.
Developing those muscles includes actions like grasping, holding, pressing, or using a pincer grip (holding something between the fore-finger and thumb). Things like clay/dough are a perfect example.
Gross motor skills involve the larger muscles in the arms, legs and torso. Gross motor activities include walking, running, throwing, lifting, kicking, etc. These skills also relate to body awareness, reaction speed, balance and strength.
One can use bean bags and balls theres just a variety of resources to use and this way you dealing with both gross and fine motors skills.
Nurturing their creativity and imagination.
Discovering their independence and positive self-esteem. This is the time when they start applying critical thinking. They are curious as well and therefore they love exploring things.
The pandemic of social/physical distancing…
Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Playing is important to a healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them.
But now with covid-19 it is a bit difficult for learners to enjoy this type of growth stimulation. Social distancing may be particularly difficult for some children and teens.
As children get older and more socially adept, their peer group become the more important hub of their social development than their immediate family.
Now that social distancing is making it difficult for learners/children to play freely, if not impossible; parents, siblings, and other family members have become their only outlet for true face-to-face social contact.
While the benefits of slowing down and spending more time with family are indisputable, our children will feel the effects of social isolation.
Most children, adolescents, and teens consider school, sports, and other activities their most important social platforms. Although they can connect with friends online, having access to their peers, in-person is key to building relationships.
Advice for both parents and teachers…
In the current COVID-19 pandemic, playing has become more important than ever before. First, children are increasingly confronted with insecurity and changes. For example, they see people wearing face masks, find that new rules apply in school, and might notice how their parents or caregivers struggle with issues like health or financial instability. Playing can be an important activity for children to cope with, process, and understand these changes.
Second, as schools close or teachers have to quarantine, there is less time for children to engage in high-quality playing activities. Such activities can provide a unique learning context for the development of different cognitive domains.
In the current COVID-19 pandemic, children are spending more time at home as some schools have to close for a day, a week, or several months. What does this mean for young children’s activities?
Why do children need play now more than ever, and how can parents engage their children in high-quality fun activities?
For young children, play provides an important context to explore the world, gain new knowledge and develop language and social abilities.
What are high-quality fun activities? One important aspect that contributes to high-quality play is the role of adults. Research shows that guided fun activities in which adults play along, ask questions, follow-up on what their children say, and broaden the activity support children’s learning. This is not easy! Most parents are great as parents, but they might not be fully equipped to design meaningful play activities, connect these activities to learning, and participate in a responsive and sensitive manner.
“For young children, play provides an important context to explore the world, gain new knowledge, and develop their language and social abilities.”
How can we make sure children keep playing during this pandemic? Here are four evidence-informed suggestions:
First, during role play, children reenact the world around them. Parents should encourage children to use materials that offer open-ended opportunities for transformation and provide them with a variety of props.
Second, besides role play, parents have numerous opportunities to engage their children in object-oriented play. Playing with objects is an accessible activity that benefits young children’s cognitive development. For example, research has shown that playing with blocks provides a unique context in which children learn spatial language (words like in, out, on top, and behind). To guide object-oriented play, parents can provide objects and materials (e.g., blocks, cars), play along, talk, give suggestions, and ask questions (e.g., “How can we make our building higher?” “Can you pass me that big block?” “What do we need to build a (…)?”).
Furthermore, schools can support parents in increasing the quality of play activities at home, for example, by providing ideas for play scenarios. Some pictures that depict different stages of a building under construction can help parents guide their children and increase the level of quality of play activities.
Researchers suggest that play is a central ingredient in learning, allowing children to imitate adult behaviors, practice motor skills, process emotional events, and learn much about their world. One thing play is not, is frivolous.
Children are naturally motivated to play. A play-based program builds on this motivation, using it as a context for learning. In this framework, children can explore, experiment, discover, and solve problems in imaginative and playful ways.
Studies have shown that play-based learning is more effective than direct-instruction approaches, which are the traditional academic-oriented teaching styles. One study found that in addition to improving play skills and narrative language ability, play-based curricula has a positive influence on grammar acquisition.
Play gives children a chance to practice what they’re learning.
– Fred Rogers