Why Play Is Important in Preschool Classrooms

“If you want your preschooler to be ready for the academic rigors ahead, forget about the curriculum. Instead, look for a classroom that lets children learn the way they do best…

“‘For kids under 5, play is the foundation for creativity, constructive problem solving, self-regulation, and learning as a whole,’ says Susan Linn, cofounder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and author of The Case for Make Believe. Play also helps preschoolers master the skills they’ll need for academic subjects later on. Storytime advances pre-reading skills like rhyming, wordplay, and the ability to follow a plot. A simple activity like playing with soap bubbles can stimulate science learning, while building with blocks establishes a foundation for understanding geometry. Repetitive play (such as putting a puzzle together, taking it apart, and then reassembling it) hones motor acuity, while unstructured group play boosts kids’ social skills…

“An early academic approach doesn’t seem to improve classroom performance. A study from the University of North Florida, in Jacksonville, found that fourth-graders who have attended play-based preschools outperform fellow students both academically and socially. And a study published in Early Childhood Research & Practice found clear links between pretend play and enhanced language ability. Your child’s future success in school doesn’t hinge on your enrolling him in a pre-K that teaches him to add and subtract or know the chemical formula for water. It’s more productive to find a program that lets him have fun as he learns.”

To read the entire article, go to parents.com.


The importance of unstructured play

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this example—and these three ideas—is that we cannot simply put a box of wooden toys in a room filled with entertainment and high-stimulation experiences and expect our kids to “instinctually” dive into free play. We need to rewire our kids. We have to give them the experience of boredom and we have to ride out the initial irritability and confusion that accompanies it. More than anything, we have to model for them, showing them how parents and children can be together but apart—engaged in focused and meaningful activities in the world around us.

The alarming news is that our kids need to relearn how to play. The reassuring takeaway is that we, as parents, are the perfect people to teach them.

Read the entire article, “We’re Ruining Our Kids with Minecraft: The Case for Unstructured Play.”

“Scientific American”: The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development

“Many people often think of play in the form of images of young children at recess engaging in games of tag, ball, using slides, swings, and physically exploring their environments. But physical play is not the only kind of play. We often use the terms pretend play or make-believe play (the acting out of stories which involve multiple perspectives and the playful manipulation of ideas and emotions), that reflect a critical feature of the child’s cognitive and social development. Over the last seventy-five years a number of theorists and researchers have identified the values of such imaginative play as a vital component to the normal development of a child.”

Click on the paragraph above to keep reading.