What is Play?
• Play is a child’s ‘work’.
• It is a critical part of learning.
• Play is where children learn new concepts, new skills, and to problem-solve.
• Play enhances a child’s school readiness through cognitive development.
How does Play nurture cognitive development?
• During play, children use their imagination to come up with ideas and images.
• During play, children practice things over and over until they feel confident about understanding or conquering a specific skill.
• During play, children learn to make sense of the world around them.
How does play nurture brain development?
Play helps with brain development because ideas and concepts can be repeated many times. An adult needs at least 15 exposures to a new idea before it is committed to short term memory, and 35 exposures to long term memory. Before a child can learn a new concept, they need to have at least 60% knowledge of the topic already, i.e. before a child can learn about glaciers, they need to know about ice, snow, mountains etc. Everything you provide for learning opportunities are building blocks for other concepts.
How can caregivers support learning through Play?
From “Learning through Play – A Child’s Job”; Jane K. Frobose; 2008. Online at: http://www.ext.colostate.edu
It is important for caregivers to play with children. Here are some guidelines for meaningful play:
• Interact – the richest play happens when you take an active role
• Observe – watch to see what skill level the children have and their favorite activities
• Follow – let the child be in control of the direction of their play
• Be creative – don’t be limited by ‘known’ experiences and outcomes, go outside the box in thinking
• Have fun – playing should be fun, do not use the time to stretch your child’s skills beyond their abilities and interests
• Children are thinkers – use this play time to gently stretch your child’s development by giving them opportunities to create and problem-solve
• Age and ability level – provide play activities and toys that match your child’s age and ability level. They should challenge your child a bit, but not to the point of frustration.
Summer is the perfect time to use play to expand thinking, support creativity, and discover through exploration.