It seems that nowadays children have to grow up very quickly and gone are the days of spending hours outdoors playing in the garden thinking up exciting imaginary games that would keep them busy for hours. Now there are so many expectations on children and their time is spent at school, doing after-school lessons and participating in other organised activities. Following all of this they spend their free time in front of the TV or on their iPads. However, research has shown that “time spent playing is time spent learning”. Play is the medium through which children learn to unify their gross and fine motor skills, language, social interaction and emotions. These learned skills can then be generalised and adapted to fit more and more complex tasks. However, if a child does not develop these underlying “building blocks” they can experience significant difficulty in a formal academic environment.
Some examples of this:
• A child who hasn’t climbed trees or jungle gyms and hasn’t spent time swimming or jumping and skipping may not have the trunk control necessary to sit up at the desk for long periods of time.
• A child who hasn’t spent time playing with play-dough or tearing paper into millions of little pieces may not have the strength in their hands to correctly hold and control a pencil.
• A child who hasn’t spent time building puzzles or copying block structures may find it very difficult to understand the spatial information presented to them when their teacher writes on the board.
• A child who has never spent hours engaging in imaginary play and building on their themes and creating new adventures and scenarios, may lack the concentration, organisational skills and problem-solving for carrying out tasks in the classroom.
Let’s allow our children the opportunity to play and explore the world around them thus helping them to develop the ability to learn through using their problem solving and planning skills. We want our children to grow into adaptable, imaginative adults who can use their skills and be able to generalise them to any situation that may arise in their lives. These skills are all learned through play!!