In what seems to be a race to push early academics, young children can miss out on what we know to be a critical source of learning: free play. Research shows that preschool-age children learn best through play.
Rather than cutting play short, Kids 360° teachers believe in the power of play and its
important role in kids’ development.
the role of play in preschool
You may be familiar with a quote from a childhood favorite, Mr. Rogers. He said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Our preschool schedule allows for plenty of time where children can play to learn. Through play, we know that children develop social and cognitive skills, mature emotionally, and gain the self-confidence they need to engage in new experiences and feel comfortable in new environments.
While it may be tempting to rush ahead to what may seem like more academic work, the foundational base for academic achievement is built through play. With a science-based curriculum, we know that replacing dedicated play time with rote memorization does kids a disservice in the long run.
benefits of playing to learn
Free play gives children the time they need and crave to investigate their interests, explore the world around them, and develop important skills they will carry through childhood and into more complex and structured learning environments later in school.
Putting together a meal in the play kitchen with a friend can teach children how to share, try out communication styles, and even learn the rules of friendship.
Free play in our Kids 360° preschool gym lets kids safely take risks, challenge themselves while building confidence, and build sensory-motor integration skills. The list is long but here are a few benefits of free play that we know to be true:
- Play engages creativity and imagination
- Social skills are developed through play with peers
- Children build important emotional regulation skills through playing
- Play is vital to physical development including physical strength, dexterity, and healthy brain development
- Physical activity through play allows students to return to the classroom and focus when needed. (See our blog on how movement primes the brain for learning.)
play and physical development
Pediatric occupational therapist, Angela Hanscom, writes about the correlation between an increase in sensory issues and the decline in free play in this article we recommend reading.
In the article, she explains that lack of play and movement leads to problems teachers see later on in elementary school.
“If children are not given enough natural movement and play experiences, they start their academic careers with a disadvantage. They are more likely to be clumsy, have difficulty paying attention, trouble controlling their emotions, utilize poor problem-solving methods, and demonstrate difficulties with social interactions. We are consistently seeing sensory, motor, and cognitive issues pop up more and more in later childhood, partly because of inadequate opportunities to move and play at an early age.”
To give our kids the very best chance at success, our Kids 360° curriculum will always include play.
Schedule a tour or attend our next open house event to learn about Kids 360°’s commitment to age-appropriate development and ample play time.