Series Part #11: Kids Going to Kindergarten Need to PLAY
One of the most important ways that we can support children as they get ready to start kindergarten is let them have time and space to PLAY. Did you know that play is so essential to the healthy development of children that the United Nations High Commission has enshrined the right to play as one of the Universal Rights of the Child?
Play is critical because play is how a child learns. The activity could be anything: throwing stones in a puddle, building with blocks, cuddling a stuffie, or putting together a puzzle. It could even be washing the dishes or helping to put away the groceries. If a child is eager and having fun, creating, discovering and manipulating, whatever the activity is can be considered play. Through play, children connect their inner and outer worlds, increasing their knowledge and understanding, and gaining confidence in themselves.
There is a tendency to dismiss play and say that it is not really learning, but if you could take a Magic School Bus field trip in a child’s brain during play, there would be all kinds of connections, growth, development and activity happening as that brain learns.
Children will learn many basic and readiness skills as they play. It can occur in any room in the house, at any time of the day, alone or with others. Play does not need fancy toys or programs. Kids will play with sticks and boxes, containers in the kitchen drawer, and things that give parents grey hairs.
Development for children at this age is tremendously important. Parents and caregivers are children’s first teachers and home is the first school. But there’s no reason for parents to panic. Nature, in its wisdom has determined that the most powerful tool for children to learn is PLAY! Imagine that. Now that’s planning! A critical time for development could be a problem if the answer wasn’t CHILD’S PLAY.
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