Importance of Play
Play is an important part of your child's development. It is through play that children learn many of the skills necessary for success not only in playing with their peers, but in getting along in groups, working cooperatively, working together for a mutual goal and for success in both academic and social setting. Play builds your child's cognitive, physical and social skills and has been considered the right of every child by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (Ginsburg et al 2007). Play involves controlled risk taking for your child. This risk might be something as simple to us as adults as sharing a toy with a peer and hoping to get it back for another turn yourself. For the child with motoric issues, it might be running to chase our peer in a friendly game of chase or tag. Play can provide your child with new experiences where free exploration time is provided to allow your child to learn about shapes, colors, sizes, and textures while determining how parts fit together as in a puzzle.
Playing with peers involves an even more complex set of opportunities and risks. Socialization skills are learned and reinforced during play. Taking turns, waiting for our turn, and sharing toys are all skills learned through play. Teamwork and fair play are goals we strive to teach children through these interactions.
As every parent and teacher can tell you, play releases all of the pent-up energy that children tend to store especially after a string of rainy or very cold days that force them to have quiet inside play. Take advantage of their play time by providing them avenues of exploration that can challenge their imagination. Give your child a few boxes so that a city or village can be built. On a snowy or rainy day give your child some blankets and towels that can be draped over furniture and those boxes to create an intricate pathway of privacy and adventure. Play with your child to create new adventures through imaginative play. Read a book such as "Going on a Bear Hunt" and then re-enact it together right down to marching through your imaginary marshy field to get to your picnic spot.
Your child may need help learning not only how to play, but how to learn while playing. For the next few months, I will be working in the classroom for some of your child's remediation time working on these important skills. As we progress through the various stages of play, I will send you further information via emails or in your child's backpack.
Sing songs such as "The Ants Go Marching" for its repetitive nature that builds on itself. Children enjoy repetition because it is predictable. In play, children can work together taking turns to stack blocks or build a roadway or train track. Doing the same thing over and over provides children with the practice and predictability that they need to master new skills.