The Importance of Play in Early Childhood

The importance of play to young children should not be underestimated. One of the biggest advantages of letting a child learn through play is it helps them develop critical social skills. When a child first begins to play they start by playing with inanimate objects such as blocks, dolls, and cars then they move onto to play with their peers. When children start to play with their peers, they learn how to share, take turns, assert themselves, and start to empathize with others. In addition to expressing feelings, children also learn to cope with their feelings as they act out being angry or sad in a situation they can not control when playing with others (Isenberg & Jablongo, 2006, p. 53). These skills cannot be learned through flash cards or by reading a book. Children need to experience it to learn the necessary social skills for their future. Another benefit of learning through play is physical development. Through play, children learn fine motor development skills and body awareness as they go about their daily activities. Research by Isenberg and Jalongo (2006) found that learning to use a writing tool, such as a marker, is an example of fine motor development through play (p. 53). Also, they explain that gross motor development, such as hopping and skipping, develops in a similar fashion (Isenburg & Jalongo, 2006, p. 53).  These basic motor skills then translate into overall, complex skills such as learning to draw or playing hopscotch. Play also stimulates creativity and imagination . When children play dress-up or build a house out of blocks it allows them to step out of their comfort zones and stretch their limits.Play lets children dream the unthinkable and helps them discover their likes and dislikes. The impact of letting children learn through play is that it lets them explore and learn about ideas independently that otherwise may have been overlooked if play was not involved. In conclusion,  children learn and develop the necessary social skills, physical dexterity, and stimulate creativity and imagination through play and their personal experiences. Play should be a priority both outside and inside the classroom so children can have the necessary skills as they grow up.

Additional Resources:

Block Off Time

Children Learn Through Play

Works Cited:

Isenberg, J.P. & Jalongo, M.R. (2006). Creative Thinking and Arts-Based Learning Preschool Through Fourth Grade. 53-55.

Ohio Standard 4.6: Teachers create and select activities that are designed to help students develop as independent learners and complex problem-solvers.

Justification: When teachers integrate play into the early childhood curriculum it lets students become independent learners because they are exploring different ideas, such as the law of gravity, on their own without formal instruction.  When they are exploring different ideas independently,  they will encounter a problem and then unconsciously try to find a solution based upon their observations and conclusions which leads them to be complex problem solvers in the future.


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