I think we can all agree that play is the fundamental way in which children learn. We have heard the quote, “Play is the true work of childhood.” Children will thrive intellectually, physically, and socially through play. Simultaneously, communication skills are enhanced through play. During play children will explore, experiment, develop friendships and share on many different levels. So play is definitely the quintessential element in early childhood development.
So where should that play take place? Some advocate mainly outdoor play – while others may suggest both outdoor and indoor play in balance is essential for the children in our charge. It is my belief that neither is right nor wrong, but simply a preference. I am sure there are many strong opinions on this, which opens a can of worms; however I believe we all have the same goals in mind – the positive, forward development of the child.
So respecting the differences in how play is implemented should be recognized.
Some questions that need answering when providing a quality childcare program may be:
What is your preferred manner of implementing your program to ensure play takes place?
What if you had no choice in the matter; how would you ensure play takes place?
What portion of your program is dedicated to play?
It can be said that play is innate; however there are those children that need a little encouragement to venture forth. So it is our job to provide the tools to ensure play takes place. This means we have to be astute in laying out the path to affirmative play. I recognize that the majority of Early Childhood Educators are very creative and have their finger on the pulse of what children want and require for developing during play. Some of us do this through music and drama, some through outdoor exploration, some through art and creative activities….. The list goes on, due to the fact that we are all essentially unique in who we are, where we live and the experiences we have had. There is no right and wrong when it comes down to the fact that children are indeed playing. They are indeed thriving and developing into the fully evolved little people we want them to be. The children are flourishing, happy and show us that what we are doing for them is fostering growth.
So why speak of play and how we implement play? Well it goes back to the fact that we know play is essential – play is implemented in many different ways. As long as we are providing an outlet for play and play is taking place on a daily basis – we respect the manner of how play is implemented, our children will benefit.