Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Children Learn Through Play

What Is Play?

There is no distinction between play and learning for young children; they are one and the same.  Yet not all play is the same.  Most experts agree that children's play can be divided into different categories:
  • Active Play: jumping, running, riding, climbing, and other use of large muscles.
  • Quite Play: coloring, reading, stringing.
  • Solitary Play: dreaming, drawing, or activity that involves only one.
  • Cooperative or Social Play: games and activities that involve more than one.
  • Creative Play: molding, painting, making music, telling stories, or any other activity that involves a child's imagination
  • Dramatic Play: make-believe, dress-up, or any play that involves pretending.
  • Manipulative Play: building with blocks, putting puzzles together, cutting and pasting, or any activity that involves eye-hand cordination or fine motor skills.
The categories overlap and any activity will most likely fall into more than one.  For example, playing 'tag' is active and cooperative at the same time.  Though children could care less which category their play falls into, it is valuable for parents, teachers, and adults who work with young children to understand the types in order to provide opportunities for children to engage in them all.

Do Children Still Play?

As a child you problably remember being told to go outside and play and not come home until the street lights came on... Nowadays, because of over-scheduling emphasis on academics in preschool, too much screen time on computers, television and video games and paranoia that the media has created around our children's safety, play the way we remember it is no pretty much no longer.  Early care enviroments are heavily focused on academics through practices that are not developmentally appropriate for young children.
In a child's early years, various types of play should be a fundamental part of every day of their life.  Remember, it is not about flash cards and fancy, expensive toys.  Resist the thought that downtime is not a good thing for children and signing them up for the latest class, sport, or activity is what will help them the most.  Make PLAY a central part of your child's and your own life!


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