Renowned pedagogist, Dr Maria Montessori famously said: “Play is the work of children”. Play enriches every aspect of a child’s developmental and learning domains, particularly the cognitive and affective ones.
However, it’s important for an adult to support a child’s play experiences by being present and engaged in the play rather than leading or controlling his play. That’s because the basic principle of play is that it should be self-directed by the child. Adults’ intervention hampers the significance and experience of play. As a result, children lose the freedom to explore play freely.
So, provide your children with plenty of opportunities to play, let them get engaged in the play, discover their interests, build themselves up, explore new things, and grow their experiences. Here’s how adults can play a crucial role in supporting and extending children’s play.
1. Planning a play
Adults can help plan their children’s play by paying attention to the environment first. A play environment; either an indoor or an outdoor area should be psychologically and physically suitable, where children can feel secure and have the freedom to explore. This should apply even when you are searching for an early child care center.
Adults mostly choose play materials based on their child’s interests and abilities. However, the focus should be on providing a wide range of materials including those they are familiar with, novel, natural and open-ended ones to support your child’s exploration in play. Allow your children to make their own choices of what they want to play with play. It will empower them to identify their abilities and interests and lead their learning experiences.
2. Supporting their play
Supporting your children’s play is crucial not just to enhance their learning and knowledge but also to familiarize yourself with their interests. You can support their play by being their playmate such as engaging in role-playing. This will let your children feel you invested your time in their play and respect their play decision. In certain situations, parents can be non-participants and just be observers such as when children are painting, drawing or clay modelling.
Parents can also play a crucial role when challenging stereotypes, interpersonal conflicts or a safety concern arise during playtime. Adults are role models for children and have the power to influence their values and behaviour and hence when a situation as this arises parents shouldn’t end the child’s play scenario but deal with it in a sensitive yet fair manner.
When you actively participate in a children’s play, you can extend upon their current knowledge and help them understand new things. Sometimes children get upset during a play scenario, especially when things don’t happen their way but when they find you in a similar situation and see that you are calmly and patiently focusing on your part in the play, they will model your positive behaviour.
When adults join in children’s activities as a playmate the responsive interactions that happen can develop a strong emotional bond between the adult and the child. According to a report, children who have strong attachments with their mothers are more likely to be conciliatory with friends and empathize with others when older.
3. Review your child’s play
Reviewing a child’s play is crucial as it helps you gain information about their current interests, purpose and learning, thereby opening your eyes to their competencies. This, in turn, will guide you to provide resources or overhaul the environment to enhance the child’s play experiences further.
By reviewing and studying your children’s play, you will also understand the patterns that emerge in their play, what they do in the play and about their social, linguistic and emotional disposition. You can review your child’s play by observing, talking and listening to them. When observing your child, always put yourself in your child’s shoes and understand how he or she is experiencing the play event.
Young children, even babies and infants need opportunities to play without adults overtaking their play. Children are naturally highly motivated to play. At Aurora Early Childcare Education, we offer our support to children’s play and our teachers gain the best possible insights to further enhance their learning and knowledge. Though play is not the only way through which children learn, it is a significant part of their early development stage. The benefits of play in early childhood are manyfold including contribution to increased adaptability, social responsibility and ability to contribute well through employment in later life. We invite you to visit our childcare centers in Doncaster and Rowville and learn why Aurora Early Education Center is best for your child.