Little Red Hen
Centre for Early Childhood Care and Education
The Value of Play
Small World Play
Policies & Procedures
The Value of Play
Play to children is far more than a break from routine. It is not just the burning off of energy or the keeping out from under the feet of busy adults.
Play is the child's method of learning. It is their way of discovering about the world in which they live and their place in it. It is their training ground and their chance to practice and perfect skills which will be necessary when they become adults.
The young child playing in the sink, emptying and filling containers is not aware she is developing mathematical concepts of "full" and "empty", "heavy" and "light", or that a scientific experiment about "floating" and "sinking" are what she is doing with the plastic saucer and the spoon. She is drawing conclusions, testing theories and extending her knowledge all the time.
The early years are probably the most important years of learning and developing. We talk about the child's "painting" as a means of developing her fine motor skills and "pre-writing" skills; we talk about water and sand play as a means of developing her "pre-math" skills; we talk about circle time and story time as a means of developing vocabulary and linguistic skills; while we adults talk about all these theories and methods we must remember that our children are children and we much grant them their right to play. We must take care not to rush them into formal education and adulthood.
Our role as adults is to provide them with space, time, materials, encouragement, recognition, and allow them to be who they are, to enjoy their childhood and the joy and freedom childhood brings.