Many parents of children enrolled in preschool think that playing and learning don’t go hand in hand. But, for young children, the opposite couldn’t be truer. Research is now showing that play constitutes a large part of how young children learn. By embracing your child’s natural tendency to play, learning can actually be improved.
The Advantages of Play
So how does play help your child learn? In short, it helps them reach their full potential. Play psychologist Dr. Jeffery Goldstein has studied play for over 40 years. His recent study found that play helps to develop neural pathways in the brain. It helps children exercise their muscles, as well as their imaginations.
Play has emotional and social benefits. It helps children to find joy and a self-esteem not based on others. It helps them to learn to be more flexible and adaptable in changing situations. Social play teaches them emotional intelligence. It can improve non-verbal skills and attention spans.
Play also has physical benefits for children. It helps them grow and develop their muscles. It also helps with coordination, agility, and other motor skills. Play has the power to decrease stress and anxiety while increasing positive emotions, thereby strengthening the cardiovascular and immune systems. In short, it makes them feel happy and healthy.
Play can be broadly defined as the spontaneous activity of children. It’s a natural instinct for children, and while it’s not serious, it absorbs children completely. There is a spectrum for the sort of play that young children engage in depending on their age.
- Solitary play, where a child plays by themselves, is common in infants who are barely learning to play.
- Exploratory play is common in toddlers and involves them exploring their environments through playing with things.
- Parallel play, where children play near each other but not with each other, starts occurring around age 2 or 3.
- Social play begins around age 3 or 4 and involves children working together to play.
- Mastery play, which involves children controlling their toys and environments, is more common in older children.
There are also numerous styles of play within the spectrum, such as pretend play and rough-and-tumble play.
Why Different Levels of Play is Important
Achieving different levels of play is a big deal for children. For example, being able to engage in social pretend play is important because it helps toddlers understand symbolic thought. Another example would be solitary play that involves substitution, such as pretending that a stick is an airplane. This type of play can help with language development because children begin to understand that things and words can stand for something else. With each new type of play comes new skills to be learned and developed. The skills that are discovered and/or practiced during play contribute to a young child’s overall education.
Your Child Needs to Play to Learn
Play is so important to a child’s learning. It helps them develop those important neural pathways that lead to skill development. Play keeps young children happy, healthy, and excited to learn new skills and ideas. It gives them a chance to practice ideas and abilities in the context of their natural instinct.
At Evolution Enrichment Preschool, we realize the importance of varying types of play with education. We know that different ages require different play and learning environments. We provide children with a variety of different types of play environments, as well as educational classes based on their age, to make sure that learning is maximized. Contact us at 212-375-9500 to help your child learn better today.