The Importance of Play
Play is a child’s work. Play is important for children’s development and for children to learn. Through play, children learn about the ever-changing world (Elkind, 2003). Teachers and families often view the value of play in different ways. Early childhood teachers say that “play is a child’s work” while parents ask, “Did my child just play all day?” The different descriptions of the value and purposes of play add to the dilemma of what and how classroom teachers can support learning and development for young children. When children play, they have active engagement with materials. Play allows children to be attentive to the process at hand, and children display a positive affect when playing (Nell & Drew, 2013). Children begin to think symbolically when they play. For example, using a block and pretending it is a telephone, or pretending a pegboard with pegs is a birthday cake. Play is directed by the child and the rewards come from within the child. Play is enjoyable and spontaneous. Play helps children learn social and motor skills and cognitive thinking. According to Fromberg and Gullo (1992), play enhances language development, social competence, creativity, imagination, and thinking skills. Play is needed for healthy development of children. Research shows that 75 percent of brain development occurs after birth. Play helps with that development by stimulating the brain through the formation of connections between nerve cells (C.M. Bailey 2006). Play also helps children to develop language and socialization skills. Play allows children to learn to communicate emotions, to think, be creative and solve problems. As children grow and develop, his or her play evolves. There are certain types of play that are associated with, but not restricted to, specific age groups. Unoccupied play: In the early months of infancy, from birth to about three months, children are busy in unoccupied play. Children seem to be making...
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