What Is the Importance of Play in Preschool?

At Little Sunshine’s Playhouse & Preschool®, we are enthusiastic advocates of play and believe that learning should be filled with fun, curiosity and imagination.

Research shows that playtime, both directed and undirected, is one of the most important contributing factors to a child’s overall development.

Finding a preschool that believes in mixing learning and play together is one of the best things that you can do for your child to encourage their growth and development.

Why Is Play Important for My Child?

As children are learning how to understand and interact with the world around them, they often naturally do so in the form of play. From a small toddler smashing their food and using touch to learn about texture, to a child playing with a paper bag, children intrinsically mix learning with play. Here are some reasons why you should encourage a healthy dose of play for your child every day:

  • Play is a human right. No, seriously. Researchers across the board recognize play as one of the most influential factors of a child’s development. In fact, play is so important to your child’s development that it is considered a human right of every child by the United Nations High Commission.   
  • Play plays a huge role in well-rounded child development and learning abilities. A report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics noted that when a child plays, they are using and developing their imagination, dexterity and physical, cognitive and emotional strength. Children also tend to become quite focused on the activity at hand, whether it’s putting together a puzzle or playing with a ball, encouraging concentration. The coolest part is that children do this subconsciously, reinforcing their natural inclination to associate learning with fun.

How Can I Encourage Playtime at Home?

Encouraging play with your child at home can be surprisingly simple! Thankfully, due to the natural curiosity and wonder of children, they don’t need the latest toy or gadget to be entertained. Kids find joy and entertainment with even the simplest of household objects, like drumming on pots and pans.

As a parent, you are very busy and sometimes nothing sounds better than vegging out in front of the T.V. Also, in an increasingly mobile world, it can be hard to take the time to unplug, but by spending daily one-on-one time with your child through play, you are greatly helping their development and strengthening your parent/child bond. Here are some ways to incorporate play with your child into your daily life:

  • Learn your child’s interests. If your child seems to gravitate towards a certain activity like finger-painting or reading, cultivate those interests. Over time, introduce new elements to the activities like color mixing, or more complex plot-lines in children’s books.
  • Get on their level. Kids love mimicking the world around them, and often their play is re-creating the scenarios they see regularly. For example, your child may delight in playing “grocery store,” or serving you up a gourmet 4-course playdough dinner. When you child wants to engage with you in play, follow their lead, and immerse yourself in their world of make-believe. This will help them build confidence in their choices and security in your relationship.
  • Give them independence. While it’s great to engage with your child in play, you should also let them play alone, too. This gives you a space to relax and unwind from your day and lets your child explore their imagination.

If you are unsure of what your child is interested in or are curious as to how they play best, ask their teacher! At Little Sunshine’s Playhouse®, our teachers keep track of students’ behaviors and interests through Luv Notes™.

Is Playtime in Preschool Important?

Choosing the right preschool for your child is a huge decision. No matter what you decide is best for your family, you should look into how the facility encourages play throughout the day. In preschools and elementary schools across the country, time spent purely on academics and traditional learning is increasing, while playtime is decreasing. Here are some reasons why playtime in preschool is essential.

  • Playtime encourages natural learning & prepares children for elementary school. Play helps preschool-aged children master the skills that will help them when they transition to a more academic setting in Kindergarten and beyond. From learning about shapes (geometry) by stacking blocks to following the plot of a storytime book or puppet show, play introduces children to concepts that will be taught in elementary school.  
  • Playtime supports social interaction. Children who regularly play with their classmates learn how to share, get along, solve problems and communicate with their peers.  
  • Playtime teaches children to associate learning with fun. At Little Sunshine’s Playhouse®, we believe that a child’s most important work is play, and we enforce this throughout the day through pre-planned play. Through pre-planned play, we teach children manners and social skills. If a child enjoys learning at an early age, it will carry with them throughout their lives.

Our Reggio Emilia inspired curriculum, Creatively Shine™ inspires curiousity and creativity. If you are interested in learning more about playtime at Little Sunshine’s Playhouse®, contact us today!