Increasing Opportunities for Free Play
Did you know that the United Nations has created a list of rights for every child around the world? And did you know that the right to play is included on that list?
This list of rights is a guiding document that nations use to ensure that all children have the chance to grow and develop in the most optimal environment possible. Included along with the right to access water and food and the protection from violence and exploitation, is the right to play.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) tells us that play is vital to the development of the whole child. Research shows, time and time again, that play promotes all areas of development and helps build relationships between adults and children. According to the NIH:
Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers.
Despite the research, children’s access to open-ended, free play continues to decrease. Factors such as increased academic standards have dramatically reduced how much time children spend on the playground or in “specials” such as art, music, and physical education classes. These trends are pushing down to early learning environments as well. Environmental factors, access to technology, and the rise of structured activities for children have all contributed to the decrease of free play in early childhood.
There are early learning programs that have adopted a completely child-led approach to curriculum planning and play. These teachers carefully observe children at play. They engage with children in ways that do not disrupt their play to promote problem-solving, risk assessment, and collaboration. While this philosophy works for some, not every program is prepared to provide this level of independence. So, the question is, are there ways to enhance opportunities for play in more traditional programs?
In this month’s newsletter, we will share ideas for incorporating opportunities for play throughout the program. We will share resources, such as the links above, designed to reinforce your efforts to promote more engaging play experiences for the children in your care. In the free-trial course for September, CHD104: The Importance of Play in Early Childhood, students will learn about different types of play, how play skills develop over time, and ways to enhance play experiences.
All of this is in an effort to empower early childhood educators to take a stand for children’s right to play, as laid out by the United Nations. You can learn more about the rights of children in this easy-to-read summary.
For the article Play throughout the Day, CLICK HERE
For the article Adaptations to Promote Free Play, CLICK HERE
For the article Incorporating Loose Parts, CLICK HERE
For the article Director’s Corner – Increasing Opportunities for Employees to Play, CLICK HERE