Here are a few reasons why engaging with children while they play is an important task for ECE professionals:

It allows teachers to learn more about children’s skills and abilities. Simply playing with children can give teachers a true sense of what children are capable of achieving.  Doing so is a form of authentic assessment, which can be more accurate that putting children on the spot be asking them to complete a task on demand.Teachers can then use the information they gather during play to introduce different materials, ask relevant questions, and extend children’s learning. 

It provides an opportunity to introduce and model many different skills. Engaging in learning centers or on the playground can be an excellent way to gently model the use of the following skills:

  • Language skills: new vocabulary, conflict resolution language, naming emotions
  • Problem solving skills: brainstorm solutions, use tools in different ways, try different approaches to problems
  • Use of materials: how materials work, cause and effect, how materials can be used creatively
  • Cognitive and critical thinking skills: practicing elements of the scientific method, reflecting on learning, pre-math and early literacy practice
  • Social skills: manners, communicating wants and needs, considering the wants and needs of others
  • Self-regulation: managing frustrations, self-calming strategies, perseverance

It helps teachers build relationships with children. In a nutshell, playing with children helps teacher build strong, trusting bonds with children.  Children will see teachers as trusted playmates and guides who are there to support them in all types of scenarios.Everything teachers hope to accomplish is grounded in the relationships that they have with children. Taking time to engage in meaningful play with children supports everything else on the daily agenda. 

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For the main article Engaging in Play with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Ways to Engage in Play with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article When to NOT Engage in Play with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner: Encouraging Teachers to Engage in Play with Children, CLICK HERE