Preschool has changed. These days, elementary school become more rigorous. This has caused a shift in preschool life for many young children. We have forgotten that much of childhood should be play and fun!
Although children are expected to learn certain skills in preschool so that they can be prepared for life in elementary school, we must not forget that kids need to play.
The work of preschoolers is play
Young children are built to play. They explore, they ask questions and they allow their senses to lead the way. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has included play as a criterion in its accreditation process for programs for young children. Great programs should have play as a part of preschooler’s everyday work.
Jenny, a preschool teacher for Redding, California says that the emphasis of play has changed the way the kids her classroom are learning. She said not only are they “more open to learning, they seem less frustrated to learn new skills like letters and numbers because problem-solving and exploring freely through play have given them more confidence”.
Types of play
Children’s play can be divided into different categories, but almost always overlap.
- Dramatic Play- focused on fantasy, this play takes place while dressing up in costumes, assuming roles as characters, using toys to represent characters in stories, creating imaginary settings, and pretending to take on the roles of adults.
- Manipulative Play— Involves, holding and handling small toys often used to build objects but also found in puzzles, characters, beads, etc.
- Physical Play— Running, climbing, jumping and other activities where the whole body is involved is a favorite! Activities with bikes, balls, jump ropes, hula hoops, play structures and more are important.
- Creative Play— Never underestimate art! Using art materials such as paint, clay, markers, pencils, glue teaches many skills. The play takes place in the process of using the materials, not in the end product. So scribbles are just as important as full-fledged pictures of their favorite pets. A variety of materials also allows further exploration.
Don’t ever think that children play too much!