Why free play benefits children long term
I read this great article and it included a TEDtalk about the importance of play.
Play is the most natural state for a child and the state in which they learn anything and everything in the first few years of life.
Before Kindergarten you want your kids too…
Learn to read, write, and spell
Have good math skills
Socialize well and be confident
Be good problem solvers
Become musical, Sporty and artistic
And the list goes on and on
You may teach your little ones to read before everyone else at their age, but without the pre-reading skills firmly in place, they will struggle through their reading for years what exactly are these skills.
The Irony is that when children lose valuable play time, they develop more learning difficulties. While little children are being forced to learn to read, write and count before they are developmentally ready. They are losing out on invaluable time when they are supposed to be learning.
LET CHILDREN PLAY
Self control and self directed is what play really is.
Did you know play-based preschools promote the deepest kind of learning by encouraging kids to become self-directed learners who explore, develop curiosity, and solve their own problems.
Play is the most effective way for young children to learn, develop social skills, and regulate their emotions.
Did you know that play has decreased dramatically during the past 50-60 years with a corresponding increase in depression, anxiety, and suicide among children and teens.
What kids once did so magnificently and naturally using their imagination and pretending to be firefighters, chefs, doctors, and superheroes is now out of grasp for many of them. Without a doubt, this loss of creativity will have profound negative consequences for these youngsters and for society as a whole. Other countries esteem play-based preschools, seeing the long range benefits of fostering independent and self-motivated learners. Sadly, we in the United States are extremely shortsighted, sending out youngsters to academic preschools so they’ll be prepared for kindergarten.
When children are toddlers, they engage in parallel play- playing near one another but not with one another. When they’re 3 and 4 years olds at preschool, they’re just beginning to interact with friends and are eager to talk. Limiting their conversations by having them sit still for long periods at circle time is counterproductive.
We don’t sit at circle time asking what letter this is or what sounds does that animal make. A child will get the animal bucket out and start looking at all the animal so we go through all the animals and make what sounds each animal makes or what color that animal is. They learn so much faster while playing instead of working on an activity book or flashcards.
I watch the kids play together taking turns with the shape sorter. Laughing because they put it in the wrong way or saying "Good job, you did it." They are playing together, learning to take turns, share, fine motor, recognizing shapes all through just playing together. When they can’t solve the problem together because the shape was stuck they come to me and say I can’t help her can you. I push my hardest to make the shape go through the toy and they say THANKS!
Many of the kids in my in-home daycare currently know their letters, not all 26 letters, but they are 3 and 4 :) We don’t spend most of our time with flashcards at the table, we don’t do worksheets. We have ABC books, letters on the walls that they can touch, we will look at our friends and see what letter they might start with and they are so excited that they know all their friends letters. We have our memory cards with all our friends holding letters that we play with trying to just recognize their friends and the letters. We sing the ABC song, talk about letters while we are playing with those toys that start with their corresponding letters, and animal sounds help us to start sounding out letters and words. We will still make fun, creative projects but typically I take 1-2 kids at a time while the others still play and the projects are outlined but they get to put their own spin on it.
I focus most of my time on finding great toys and opportunities for kids to teach themselves. I will watch and observe what the kids interests are in and help foster their development through it. Empathy for baby dolls, right and wrong with Power Rangers, serving food to one another, and especially sharing so we get to enjoy playing together. Any child who has come to Ms Bethy's for a consistent amount of time from at least 1 years of age develops their letters, numbers, and the essentials needed to prepare for Kindergarten but most of all they learn how to teach themselves and seek answers to problems.
Matt has to work on giving our kids everything and doing everything for them. He likes to buy the action figures, wrestling ring, accessories, clothing, weapons, and setup the whole wrestling match. Matt wants to provide our own kids with everything that IS creative and it gets to be so much that it takes away from them making up their own game. Kids need structure but not with every aspect of their life.
Less is more
A simple way to enjoy your kids creativity is to get a pack of dinosaurs or barbies, go in the backyard or on the floor, and just take directions from them. Our Lily is really into Frozen barbies so Matt gets to hold Kristoff and lets Lily direct how he plays. She may not remember what dress they wore or her dad making Kristoff dance and fold in half but when she's older she will definitely remember laughing and playing barbies with her dad.