This last week's early literacy text message was about the importance of play.
There is a lot of research out there to support it, including:
- The Assocation of American Pediatrics report, The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds which says "Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children"
- The importance of pretend play is described in this article in Psychology Today (3/6/12), where the authors stated: "Systematic research has increasingly demonstrated a series of clear benefits of children’s engagement in pretend games from the ages of about two and one half through ages six or seven. Actual studies have demonstrated cognitive benefits such as increases in language usage including subjunctives, future tenses, and adjectives. The important concept of “theory of mind,” an awareness that one’s thoughts may differ from those of other persons and that there are a variety of perspectives of which each of us is capable, is closely related to imaginative play"
- Work to facilitate children’s play. This article in Child Care Quarterly (Winter 2012) recommends: "As children are engrossed in their play activities in the various centers, use open-ended questions to encourage interaction with teachers and peers. Provide props that help children pretend, imagine, create, explore, discover, and communicate as they play. Model interactions that promote children’s social skills, stimulate their sense of self-worth, and encourage collaboration."
- In this 2007 article, Play in the Preschool Classroom: Its Socioemotional Significance and the Teacher’s Role in Play it is stated that "...sociodramatic play contributes to children’s emotional and social development. As children engage in play, they develop and enhance emotional and social skills that will serve them in the school setting and other aspects of life."
What is the short and sweet of it? Let your kids play! Play is "the work of childhood" according to developmental psychologist Jean Piaget - it is as important as learning the letters, counting, or learning nursery rhymes.