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3 Reasons Why Kids NEED to Play

number one thing for children to learn

There was an excellent article posted on nprEd entitled What Kids Need From Grown-Ups (But Aren’t Getting).  The article is a summary of a conversation with Erika Christakis the author of the book The Importance of Being Little.

 Here are a few of my favorite points:

1.  “I think the No. 1 thing is for kids to have a chance to play, to make friends, to learn limits, to learn to take their turn.”  – This is spot on.  The focus of preschool and kindergarten has changed so that students are expected to sit still for long periods of time and learn extensive academic material. The problem becomes that many children do not have the self regulation skills to accomplish these tasks resulting in challenging behaviors that distract from instructional time.  When children learn through play, they guide the exploration, take turns and learn how to wait.

2.  “If you’re building a fort with your peers, you’re talking, using higher-level language structures in play than you would be if you’re sitting at a table. You’re doing math skills, you’re doing physics measurement, engineering…that’s very powerful.” – Think about other played based skills – maybe a simple tea party.  Children have to learn to pour liquids (life skill), determine proper measurements (volume) and take turns (social skills).  How about playing superhero?  Children are developing imagination skills, creativity, verbal expression and social skills.  I am sure that completing a letter worksheet will not address all the previously mentioned skills.

As children get older, you can introduce more direct literacy skills into play time.  For example, provide play prompts, such as Doctor and Hospital pretend play pages, to help spark imagination and literacy skills.

3.  “Boredom can be a friend to the imagination.” – Children in today’s society have very little or no down time. For some reason, parents today feel the need to sign their children up for every enrichment activity under the sun.  It is okay for children to have nothing to do and that does not mean turn on the television, grab a smart phone or play a video game.  Children need to learn to develop leisure skills which help them to determine their talents, expand their creativity. feel a sense of accomplishment and relieve stress.  Sometimes, all children need when bored is a few suggestions to get them started or some simple tools/props to get going.  Play Move Develop has 100 ideas to encourage development through play skills.

You can read the entire article here.

Reference:  Turner, C.  What Kids Need From Grown-Ups (But Aren’t Getting). NPRed.  Retrieved from the web on 2/10/16 at http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/02/09/465557430/what-kids-need-from-grown-ups-but-arent-getting?.