When parents are touring a preschool, they are full of questions. Someone always asks, “So, all they do is play?” or “My child plays at home, so do I need to send them to preschool to do the same thing?” or even “What do they learn through play, anyway?”
The answer is YES! Children need to play, and play, and play some more. Preschoolers need to role play and build in the blocks. They need to paint, draw, explore, observe, discover, and get messy. They need to negotiate with their peers, take turns, make rules, and plan out how they are going to play. Young children need lots of opportunities to play in many ways.
Play is so essential to optimal child development that the United Nations High Commission has recognized it for Human Rights as a right of every child.
Classroom Play is NOT the Same
There are a number of ways that classroom play is different from play at home.
- Children need the opportunity to interact with and learn from peers.
- The preschool teacher offers toys and centers purposefully selected to challenge students.
- Skills such as early literacy and early math are woven into the fabric of play in the preschool setting.
- Playing in different centers challenges students to take on new roles, try new props, and think in a variety of ways.
Fighting for Children’s Rights to Learn Through Play
Unfortunately, it feels like society places too much emphasis on getting young children ready for kindergarten. Preschool teachers want their students to be prepared for kindergarten academically but also realize that a child’s main job is to PLAY! It is the way their young brains develop and grow. Teachers must withstand the pressure to push heavily academic programs into early childhood programs.
More Resources about Play in the Preschool Classroom
- The AAP recommends play for a healthy childhood. It is also vital for creating stronger parent/child bonds.
- Share this article by NAEYC with parents – it’s 10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Play.
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