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Why Play is Important to Early Childhood Development

“I like to think of play as being the practice a child needs in order to master the many fine skills that will be used for later tasks. Much of what we do as adults is stringing small skills together that we've learned automatically. Children are practicing those skills while playing.” - Greg Yoder, teacher consultant at All Belong

What better time to play than in the summer, when the sun is out, the water is warm, and free time seems endless? Well, as teacher consultant Greg Yoder points out in this clip from his professional development session, play should be a priority year round. Greg Yoder explains why in this video:

The Importance of Play in Early Chilldhood Development CLIP Click the image above or this link (http://youtu.be/VOKIsUG_11o) to watch this short clip.

With the understanding that play is important, how can you foster creative play in your home or classroom?

  • Be encouraging and not judgmental. Let kids make their own mistakes and learn from them. Don’t interfere too much.

  • Make wise choices in toy selection. Choose toys that allow kids to use their imagination. Some great examples include building blocks, dress up clothes, toy kitchen sets, toy cars with race tracks, and more.

  • Limit all screen time. Many child experts say kids should not have any screen time before the age of two, and very little thereafter.

  • Read aloud to children daily. The most important thing we can do to help a child read is to help them develop a love for storytelling and reading. We can do this by reading aloud to them daily.

  • Be playful with word usage. Teach kids the nuances of language while playing word games. You can do this while driving in the car, shopping at the grocery store, doing dishes at home, or during other daily tasks.

  • Be playful. When your child is having fun, that's the best time for learning

Additional resources:

Photo of Greg YoderGreg Yoder is a teacher consultant at All Belong in Grand Rapids, MI. Read about his involvement in creating inclusive communities at West Highland Christian Academy and Creston Christian School.  Articles also by Greg include, The Benefits of Journaling and Include Others - Jesus Did.