Monday, March 12, 2012

The Importance of Play in Early Childhood Education

The Oxford dictionary describes play as: to fulfill, to occupy oneself, to have the ability to perform, to undertake or exercise activities for pleasure.

Not any particular child, but every child in any nation, environment or circumstance needs play. It is vital that a child exercises play in order to all themselves to express socially emotionally and to perform physically. Play allows itself to be an individual creation or to be shared with others, it can be pulled in any direction letting it be turned into anything a child would like, preparing a healthy start to a lifetime of learning. Play is so special that its generosity even includes having fun; in fact that is one of the most important things about it. It has so many benefits that head off in every direction developing all the important ingredients for strong head start in a child life.

It is the adult's job to explore the conditions which are best for maximizing the potential benefits of play for children to develop these social skills. This can be done by exercising various games that are exciting, fun, and positive for children. Many social skills are learnt through co-operative activities allowing the child to learn how to confidently form stronger friendships and relationships with siblings and parents.

Activities that involve interacting with others teach children not only about themselves but also about other children's feeling needs and wants. They can use these skills for future confrontations and conflicts as they have been exposed and taught the skill of valuing others emotions.

As well as being socially and emotionally equipped a child need to develop physical strengths. Play has a huge impact in this development for children of varying ages, abilities and interests. Through physical play a child's fine body movement (fine motor skills) such as eye, mouth, wrist, finger and toe stimulation and large body movement (gross motor skills) like arms, legs, and full body exercise are being strengthened. This motor play provides critical opportunities for children's overall strengthening of muscles, nerves and brain stimulation.

Play involves social, emotional, and physical learning. Cognitive development comes hand in hand with all three of these developments and play is an important vehicle of this. Play gives children the opportunity to understand the world, interact with others in social ways and to express and control emotions. Play provides an opportunity for children to practice newly acquired skills and attempt or challenge tasks, they start to solve complex problems that they would not or could not otherwise do

All the above paragraphs are vital for a child to develop a healthy start in life. But there is one paragraph missing perhaps the most important, this one is about fun! Play and fun are very close friends in they are in fact family. Without play, fun doesn't exist and without fun play can't exist. "Children do not play for reward, praise, money or food. They play because they like it."

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