The Power of Play
Through play the child develops abstract meaning separate from the objects in the world which is a critical feature in the development of all higher mental functions. – Lev Vygotsky
Play is fertile ground for the development of imagination, but these days there is little time for exercising the imagination, fantasy, or creativity – the mental tools required for success in higher-level math and science. – David Elkind
Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood. – Fred Rogers
Play is the answer to the question, How does anything new ever come about? – Jean Piaget
Play is not the opposite of work; this is a false dichotomy. Play without work is merely entertainment. Work without play is drudgery. Together, work and play are both pleasurable and beneficial. Playful learning supports children to develop to their maximum potential. Through imaginary play children become bigger than themselves – larger than life - kings and queens, wizards and magicians, athletes and super heroes.
There is a well-established body of research, which clearly demonstrates that imaginative play supports social, intellectual, and language development. Not only are play-oriented programs are just as successful or more successful than more academic programs in promoting learning, children who attend more academic programs show less self-esteem, are less creative, and have more negative attitudes toward school than kids who experience playful learning.
Play is the primary source of development in children. Children develop positively through play. Play gives children practice figuring out what they want, coming up with goals and ideas – essential skills in self-disciplined adults. Play allows children to make meaning of new concepts and creates experiences that allow them to form connections to future learning concepts. In play, children make decisions and determine the course of what happens in the imaginary situation. Self-discipline, the formation of real-life plans, and decision-making motives all appear in play.
When children are playing at being a fire fighter, they are not learning to fight fires; rather, they are learning how to relate to people in diverse situations, how to adapt, how to think, how to make decisions, how to form relationships, how to generate possibilities, and how to guide their own behavior. They learn how to make decisions and plans – in fact they often spend more time planning the roles of the imaginary situation than actually playing the game. Through play, children become wonderful learners. Through play, children learn how to learn. Play is the essence of childhood learning.