The Hidden, and Not so Hidden, Benefits of Play
Childhood comes but once in a lifetime. Many people feel that childhood is a time to prepare for being a grown-up, a good student, and a citizen of the world. I don’t disagree with that, but too often, we spend time preparing children for the next phase (you have to learn your ABCs so you can be ready for preschool; you have to learn to write your name, so that you can be ready for kindergarten). But sometimes we forget to value childhood as a unique stage in and of itself. Let’s stop thinking of childhood ONLY as a time to get ready for the next stage.
Research shows that children NEED to play. It is not an option. It is how children learn to navigate the world. Through play, children learn to manipulate objects, reorganize thoughts, solve problems independently, navigate social situations, make choices and decisions, be imaginative, and experiment with new ideas. This does not, however, happen haphazardly or automatically. Adults in the child’s environment must provide children with adequate time to explore and play and proper equipment such as open-ended toys and activities. Children should have some uninterrupted time to explore and learn, but adults must engage in play with children. We must be available to help extend their thoughts, expand their vocabulary, pose questions that encourage thinking, scaffold their learning, and engage them in quality conversations.
Quotes about Play
You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. ~Plato
Play is the highest development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in the child's soul.... Children's play is not mere sport. It is full of meaning and import. ~Friedrich Froebel
It is a happy talent to know how to play. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.~ Confucius
Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning....They have to play with what they know to be true in order to find out more, and then they can use what they learn in new forms of play. ~Fred Rogers
We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. ~ George Bernard Shaw
Play for young children is not recreation activity,... It is not leisure-time activity nor escape activity.... Play is thinking time for young children. It is language time. Problem-solving time. It is memory time, planning time, investigating time. It is organization-of-ideas time, when the young child uses his mind and body and his social skills and all his powers in response to the stimuli he has met. ~James L. Hymes
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Books About Play