When we look back to our memories from our childhood days, we often single out playtime as among the most blissful and worry-free experiences we had in our lives. But various research done in the field of early childhood education over the years also demonstrates how valuable playtime is to the overall learning process, and how it will continue to serve the same benefits to every new generation of toddlers and preschoolers. Aside from giving them opportunities to have fun, free play affords children the opportunity to learn important things about themselves, other people, and the world around them.
For parents who want to know more about the importance of play to preschool Singapore students, here’s a list of six key benefits. Encourage your child to learn through play, and explore the role you can take as a parent in guiding your child’s playtime.
It Serves as a Healthy Outlet for Children
The first important benefit of learning through play is a practical one: it will afford your child a healthy outlet for their energy. In their preschool years, your child will be particularly energetic and inquisitive. Having time for play both at school and at home will allow them to get some healthy physical and mental exercise. Play activities like hide-and-seek, tag, and hopscotch can also improve their coordination, spatial awareness, and motor skills.
It Stokes a Child’s Imagination
Imagination is something that both teachers and parents will want to cultivate in a child. One of the best means for doing so is through play. During free play, a child gets the chance to ask questions about the world—and also to try answering those questions themselves with a sense of whimsy and wonder. Activities like role playing, building structures with blocks, drawing, and making up songs are particularly good avenues for letting children imagine.
It Allows Children to Practice Their Problem Solving Skills
Long before your child learns math or science, they will have already demonstrated some important problem solving skills related to these disciplines if they had ample opportunity to play. For example, play activities like assembling a modular toy and running a toy car down an inclined plane can teach kids about how things move and stay stable—which are important concepts in physics. When kids understand these things for themselves during play, they have a better foundation for learning more complex concepts in the future.
It Helps Children Internalize Important Lessons about Values
Parents and teachers start teaching children about proper values from an early age. But it is in instances like free play with other kids that they truly get to practice what adults have modeled for them. In the classroom and in the playground, kids will learn the importance of sharing things with others, waiting their turn, playing fair, and being careful not to hurt others or themselves. Indeed, playtime is one of the best opportunities to see if kids truly understand the values they’ve been taught—and can practice them in engaging with others.
It Provides Children with Opportunities to Socialize
Though a lot of play activities can be done alone, some are best enjoyed in the company of other children. While playing football or riding a seesaw with other kids, for example, your child can make friends, improve their communication skills, and learn about what life is like for other children. As a parent, you should encourage your child to socialize during playtime and foster friendships that will make their preschool years even happier.
It Challenges Children in Safe and Healthy Ways
Lastly, playtime can do something vital for a child’s growth—that is, bolster their ability to go out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves. Within the confines of safe and healthy play, your child can master small challenges that will serve as important growth milestones later in the future. You can watch them get over their initial fear of heights when they finally get the courage to climb a few more rungs up the jungle gym. Or, you can see their confidence grow once they finally get to shoot a ball into a mini basketball hoop. These are immensely rewarding moments for children, as well as the adults watching over them.
Some Last Tips on Helping Your Child Learn Through Play
Parents have important roles to play in ensuring safe, happy, and fulfilling playtime for their children. With that in mind, remember to do the following things:
- Choose age-appropriate activities for your children. You can research good options online or ask their teacher what they recommend.
- Supervise your children during playtime, especially if they’re doing a physical activity. This ensures that your child does not inadvertently hurt themselves or other people. If someone else will be supervising your child, make sure that they will be in the care of a professional preschool teacher or early childhood educator.
- Give your child enough freedom to do things for themselves, as that is how they truly learn through play. They can start with simple tasks and try more challenging ones later, with you assisting them as needed.
Don’t discount the value of play in your child’s holistic early childhood education. And when it’s time to play with them, try to see things through their eyes and discover something new about the world you share!