By, Darine Hounaine
The right to play is stated as an actual right in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child; this reinforces the value placed on ‘play’ internationally.
The importance of play in early childhood includes adventure, growth and learning. Supporting children’s natural curiosity, eagerness to learn and their love of communication with others is vital through constructive play. It is important that a learning environment is designed to provoke curiosity and constantly challenge thinking in a child.
Top 5 reasons why play is important in the early years of a growing child:
- Secure attachments are developed: Through play children begin to adopt secure attachments to their friends, families and teachers. Strong relationships are key to children feeling safe, secure and supported. This positively impacts their learning, happiness and self-esteem. Parents are a child’s first teacher and much of that teaching happens through play.
- Play’s effects on brain development: Play has academic and cognitive benefits for the brain; it can in fact shape the structural development of the brain.
- Learning skills being developed: Through play children develop vital learning and life skills such as exploring, identifying, negotiating, risk-taking and imagining.
- Speech and language development: During play children are watching, listening, exploring and replicating. A child can be playing quietly, however they are learning important information and exposed to new vocabulary that they will carry with them and use throughout their growing stages in life.
- The ability to regulate their behaviour: Children are learning new skills through play, such as how to concentrate on a task, how to take turns and how to share. Consequently, these will aid them in regulating their behavior and emotions.
Play allows school adjustment to be enhanced and, most importantly, a love of learning to be developed. When children play and learn new things they realize that learning can actually be fun and actually view learning as something enjoyable, rather than a chore.