The Importance of Play in Early Childhood
Play is central for our children to develop positive life long learning success. Play and learning occur simultaneously – they are not separate entities. It is not play versus learning, but play and learning. If our goal is well-adjusted, “successful” citizens, we need to redefine what ‘success’ is.
In the early years, it isn’t about filling up your child with facts and knowledge, reading or math. It’s not about learning to sit in desks or filling out work sheets or queuing up for this or that. If we are really committed to our children, we will recognize that their futures are not dependent upon any of that stuff, but rather this really hard, messy, emotional work we do every day as we play with our fellow citizens.
It is not about readiness for school, but readiness for life. The most important factors for early childhood are our children developing a positive imagery of themselves as a learner and learning to LOVE to learn. That way they hit school with all the tools needed.
The dispositons (habits of mind) that we encourage in children at New Shoots start young. We encourage: risk taking, divergent thinking, communicating with clarity, solving problems, creative thinking, asking questions and collaboration to name a few. These are the same habits your children need for LIFE.
Through play, children learn to take turns, delay gratification, negotiate conflicts, solve problems, live with disappointment, share goals and acquire flexibility. By allowing children to imagine walking in another person’s shoes, imaginative play also seeds the development of empathy, a key ingredient for intellectual and social-emotional success.