What is Play? The dictionary has over 35 entries for "play".
I am choosing: play- exercise or activity for amusement or recreation.
When asked what your child did at school, do they often answer "I played"?
That is the answer I still receive from my own children, to which I ask the follow up question,
"Was it fun? Do you think you'll play ______ tomorrow?"
Joy is important. Joy opens us to experiences. Play is a great source of joy.
Play is a vital part of a child's development. Through play young children develop many skills. When children play, they try new experiences and have an opportunity to discover their capabilities. Play allows a child to express their interests and demonstrate some independence through the choices they make.
Cooperative play requires children to communicate to insure a fun time. As children play and make rules for a game, or plan a "party", they learn to positively express their ideas, and listen to the ideas of others. Through play, they learn to solve conflicts and find solutions everyone can agree too. When playing an organized game, they develop the patience to share and take turns.
Play supports cognitive development. When the children are in the home living area and they have "cooked" a meal for 3, and 2 more friends join them, they need to figure out how many more dishes will be needed. Will there be enough corn for everyone or will someone need to eat tomato?
The physical development play provides is essential. It helps a child discover their limitations and strengths.
One day a child may want to climb the ladder to the slide, discover half way it's a bit more challenging than she expected and decide she wants to come down. That day, the child may not feel secure enough to climb back down the ladder and will require help.
Next week, the child may climb back down the ladder and not even notice she has done it.
She simply did it.
Likewise, play helps develop a child's fine motor control and dexterity.
The fun and joy experienced during play contributes to a happy and productive classroom.
It is no surprise to me that the children at The Gan typically say hello to their friends with big smiles and a eagerness to begin playing, as well as a good bye to their friends with an "I love you".