The Importance of Play

12 December 2017

Play underpins the Early Years Foundation Stage. It also underpins learning and all aspects of children’s learning.  Through play, children develop language skills, their emotions and creativity, social and intellectual skills. Play takes place indoors and outdoors and it is in these different environments that children explore and discover their immediate world.

There has been an abundance of research around play and its positive effects on early childhood learning and development. In general, research shows strong links between creative play and language, physical, cognitive and social development. Play is a healthy, essential part of childhood. As they grow young children engage more and more in play activities that expand their knowledge of the world around them, develop their motor skills, and focus on their peers. The role that adults have is crucial. Adults provide time and space and appropriate resources. They observe play and join in when invited, watching and listening before intervening. They value play and provide safe but challenging environments that support and extend learning and developments.

There are five main reasons why play is important in the early years:

  • Developing secure attachments: Through play children begin to foster secure attachments to their peers, family and educators. Strong relationships are the key to children feeling safe, secure and supported which impacts on their learning, happiness and self-esteem.
  • The effect of play on brain development: Play has intellectual and cognitive benefits for the brain and it is believed that play can in fact shape the structural development of the brain.
  • Development of learning skills: Through play children develop important learning and life skills such as exploring, identifying, negotiating, risk-taking and imagining.
  • Speech and language development through play: During play children are watching, listening, exploring and imitating. Even when children play silently they are learning important information and can be exposed to new vocabulary that they will carry with them and use later.
  • The ability to regulate their behaviour: As children play they are learning skills such as how to concentrate on a task, how to take turns and how to share. In turn these will aid them in regulating their behaviour and emotions.

Our Early Years Centre will be more than simply a place that will take care of children; it will give them the tools to succeed in the future.

The teacher will develop emotional skills, encourage engagement and promote curiosity. They will use ‘teachable moments’ to show children how to manage frustrations and interactions with others and how, without embarrassing or punishing, show the impact that their actions have on others.

Helping others is an important benefit of the Early Years Centre. Teachers will educate children about the importance of helping others.  Throughout a child’s school years, much of their time will be spent in the company of others. Teachers will introduce and support behaviours that will help them form bonds with others.

Children do require a structured environment that helps them make friends and play well with others. The Early Years Centre will provide a structure where teachers will patiently and consistently coach the children encouraging appropriate behaviours and outcomes.

Between the ages of 3 and 5, a child’s vocabulary grows from about 900 words to 2, 5000 words and sentences become more complex. The Early Years Centre will expose children to a language-rich setting where conversational games are encouraged and thought provoking questions are asked of the children.

Young children are curious and want the skills, such as mathematics and reading, which parents and teachers find important. The Early Years Centre will provide simple games and situations that are designed to make the introduction of the basic skills and concepts fun.

Teachers will nurture a child’s curiosity by using the child’s own interests and ideas to create activities that foster curiosity. They are able to use the line between reality and make-believe to fuel engagement and curiosity.

The teachers will give children the tools they need to succeed at the next level. Each child is put on their own path to success. If they are advancing at a faster rate than others they are introduced to more advanced learning.

What your children learn in the early years will impact the rest of their lives. The Early Years Centre they attend is therefore very important. Please choose wisely. Our future leaders deserve the very best.