Play is an elusive concept, and it’s an essential part of life, not just childhood. Educators and psychologists alike describe play as a means for organizing information and learning. Through all various types of play, pretend or dramatic, free or guided play, learning is constantly happening.
Preschool Play Categories
Research on Benefits of Play
Invitations to Play
Pretend or Dramatic Play
Small World Play
What is Play?
Play is the act of engaging in something for pure enjoyment, but play is much more complex than that. Play consists of five distinct characteristics as noted by Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Dr. Roberta Michnick Golinkoff in their book Einstein Never Used Flashcards. They are as follows: play…
- is pleasurable and enjoyable
- has no extrinsic goals
- is spontaneous and voluntary
- requires active movement
- is imaginative
The Difference Between Free Play and Guided Play
There are benefits of both free play and guided play in a preschool setting. (They are sometimes referred to as structured and unstructured play.) The value of each lies in their purpose.
Free play allows children to create their own rules and settings. It is completely open-ended. Guided play refers to staged activities for children to explore with a specific purpose. It has specific rules and objectives.
It is easy to think that guided play holds more value in preschool, however for children to develop healthfully they also need free play just as much.
What is Learned Through Play
Play encourages all areas of proper development, from cognitive and physical to social and emotional. Here are some facts about the benefits of play:
- Play builds self-esteem and confidence.
- Play develops problem-solving skills.
- Play encourages new vocabulary usage.
- Play teaches children to collaborate.
- Play teaches children to be alone and independent.
- Play allows children to release their emotions.
- Play encourages planning and thinking ahead.
When you think of play, you think of a happy, carefree environment. But there’s much more going on than just fun. Children are actively learning and developing through their play.