The Role of Play in Early Learning

The Role of Play in Early Learning

Children love learning through playful experiences. They know to take turns and resolve conflicts during cooperative play.

They also learn to explore challenges and master skills that require persistence.

Pediatricians recommend playing as a way to promote healthy development. Unfortunately, many young children don’t get enough time to play.

Social-Emotional Development

Play is essential to social-emotional development, allowing children to engage in imaginative, risky, and creative experiences that nurture their sense of self as capable and unique individuals. Play is an effective means of teaching empathy and imparting persistence.

Research indicates that young children who engage in peer play while attending a kids day care center Calabasas, CA, exhibit improved emotional control skills compared to their non-playing counterparts.

While children’s plays are mainly self-directed, the adults accompanying them can provide support by prompting, encouraging, and modeling specific skills. It is known as guided play, another essential piece of playful learning pedagogy.

Educators and parents can also promote playful learning by creating daily lesson plans that align with the type of play that the child is engaged in. It is a great way to encourage children’s natural curiosity while still making sure that they are meeting curricular and developmental goals.

Cognitive Development

Children can learn new skills during play by reacting to their environment. Whether it’s trying to make a tower that doesn’t fall over or role-playing with friends, they are gaining problem-solving experience. They can imagine the world from different perspectives, understand their emotions and others’ feelings, develop creativity, and more.

Additionally, when children play with peers, they learn to collaborate, communicate, and cooperate. They also build their fine and gross motor skills as they draw, paint, role-play, and build with blocks.

A recent meta-study found that guided play (where teachers set up learning activities with a specific learning goal in mind) can positively impact cognitive development and even academic outcomes like numeracy and literacy.

It is a strong indication that balancing both developmental and literary approaches to early learning is crucial for students’ success. Studies show that when less emphasis is on teaching purely academic skills, kids may miss critical cognitive development that can affect their future education.

Physical Development

Physical development during play is essential for healthy growth and learning. It helps children build muscle mass and coordination as they jump, swing, run, climb, and use their hands. It also exposes them to tactile experiences, such as the feel of wooden blocks, sand, or wet paint.

Imagination is a big part of play, allowing children to navigate their worlds and create scenarios. They learn to interact with objects creatively and can use anything as an object of their choice, such as a stick for a sword or a laundry basket for a car.

Play-based education has increased cognitive outcomes, including literacy and math. As the world returns to a more academically focused approach in classrooms, educators must remember that play-based learning is just as critical for children’s social, emotional, and academic success.

Language Development

Play promotes language development, which is essential to learning. Babies are likely to experiment with sounds during their play, babbling lots of ‘ba ba ba,’ and at around 12 months, they may start to use their first words! When children play, they can communicate with their peers and learn from one another. It helps them develop their vocabulary and expand their grammatical understanding.

When children collaborate during play, it also builds their confidence and independence. They’re more likely to take risks and try something new, like using a block as part of their castle or a meteorite from outer space, when they feel confident enough.

Play-based learning supports all of a child’s motor skills, from fine to gross. Painting, drawing, and role-playing boost fine motor skills, while jumping, climbing, and running increase gross motor skill development. With tools like Brightwheel, educators can create daily lesson plans that incorporate various types of play.