Schools Training

Child’s Play and the Role of Early Education

10 APR 2013
Career Path : Childcare

The early childhood years, before school and society begin to wield their influence, could be called the “play years.” Though many of us never lose our love of playing, it is this initial period of life when play consumes most of a child’s waking hours. Whereas once child’s play was considered a waste of time, developmental psychologists now understand that it is an essential and healthy part of childhood. Creative play promotes growth and change in key areas of development, including language, physical, cognitive and social skills.

Early Development

From the very beginning of life we explore the world through sensory experience. Toddlers play pretend when they imitate actions and events of the world around them. By age 5, a child’s physical development and motor skills allow them to play independently and with others, running around and using playground equipment. Play with other children is especially important because children learn these large motor skills better from peers than adult instruction. Rapid neurological changes in this stage of life foster imagination growth and social interaction skills. While a 2-year-old is likely to throw temper tantrums and cling to parents in fear of separation, a few years later they have usually learned to handle anger more constructively and successfully play in groups.

Early Education

Play should not be rigid, but rather integrated into the child’s freely flowing world. Instructors are trained in early childhood college to base lessons around play and hands-on activities, the primary way young children learn. Games, music, artwork and increasingly computers are popularly used to engage their attention. Puzzles, play-dough and building blocks can inspire imagination and problem-solving skills. Encourage drawing with lots of colours and telling stories, even if verbal mistakes make them tricky to understand. Young children without fear of embarrassment are eager to communicate and their free use of language helps them acquire vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation abilities. Story time plays an essential role in promoting learning, with associated questions, rhyming games or arts and crafts providing the opportunity for them to respond.

Much can be learned about a child’s development by observing them in play. It is often a reflection of how they see society, recreating aspects of their life and providing hints about how they feel about themselves. This becomes apparent in observing who they choose to emulate in role-playing and who becomes leader of the group. Watching how materials are distributed illustrates their concept of sharing and respect.

Children with Disabilities

Children with disabilities often have lower self-esteem than their peers and more difficulty developing social skills. Parents or instructors trained with a personal support worker course may have to teach them how to play. If they’re over-protected they will lack the requisite peer pressure that group play provides. Play is to a child what work is to an adult – a fruitful and powerful pursuit.

Visit the National Academy of Health and Business for more information about early childhood or accounting courses.