Imaginative and creative play is important for every child. Having fun exploring and discovering their world whether indoors or outdoors is essential in developing the foundation for social, emotional, and cognitive skills.
In fact, play is a child’s work.
~Dr. Donna Housman
Summertime. We think of this short and highly anticipated period of the year as the perfect time to simply kick back, relax, and play. Play, however, as every early childhood educator knows, is a serious business—in fact, it is at the center of every child’s early development, and it happens every day. That does not mean play cannot be a whole lot of fun; in fact, it should be, bringing joy and unlimited opportunities to let children’s imaginations fly. Play and the role it has in children’s growth, development, and learning is key.
Encouraging play has never been more critical. We are seeing the impact of over two years of disruption, interruption, and prolonged stress on children’s learning, behaviors, and social-emotional development. Young children have not had the consistent key social experiences that help form their understanding of how the world works and how they and their friends across their playspace work. The lack of in-person interactions, time spent alone, consistent stress and uncertainty, and confusion have taken a toll. Our youngest learners are left struggling to understand their big emotions, and how to navigate everyday social routines.
What can we do to support children in dealing with all of the disruption and stress? How do we change course, help them gain ground, and help them develop the skills they need to learn and navigate their world? Let’s play!