The importance of play for preschoolers
Research has proven that the most important period of human development is from birth to eight years old. Learning during these years happens at a pace that will never be matched. This is when cognitive skills, emotional well-being, social competence, and sound physical and mental health develops, laying a strong foundation for a successful adult. Kids ‘R’ Kids, Valrico, an educational preschool, shares the importance of structured and unstructured play for preschoolers that helps them prepare for formal school.
Structured and unstructured play
Structured play is also called goal-oriented or guided play. It is an activity that comes with structured instructions and has a specific learning objective for a preschooler. It is composed of planned activities that are supervised by adults - parents and teachers.
However, organizing every detail for children can hamper the development process. Children need to be allowed to use their imagination and individual creativity to learn and grow.
Unstructured play or free play is focused on creative, improvised forms of activity. It may involve both outdoor and indoor activities wherein the child can take decisions and solve problems independently. Activities may range from pretend play to building blocks and exploring a garden.
One major drawback of unstructured play is that the child cannot be left alone even for a moment and should be under the parent’s supervision at all times, especially the younger preschool kids. They must be educated about how to keep themselves safe and to recognize the possible dangers around them.
Benefits of play on a child’s development
Fosters effective communication
Play enables a child to develop important speech, language as well as listening skills. During play led by preschool teachers or parents, children need to listen to instructions and follow directions to complete a task. This ability to listen and understand helps build communication skills. During unstructured play and without any company children may narrate their pretend play story and practice the words and expressions learned. An unstructured group play will require the children to communicate, discuss, negotiate, and compromise. All this play leads to the development of effective communication skills and a teamwork spirit.
Develops social skills
Unstructured as well as structured play drives children towards the achievement of a shared goal. The collaboration makes children perceptive of each other’s needs, builds assertiveness, teaches negotiation skills, develops cooperation skills, and reinforces the importance of sharing. Ultimately, this group play fosters social skills and children learn to make friends. Through play, children learn to work through their emotions and learn to recognize non-verbal cues, which are important components of language development and social skills.
Builds critical thinking and motor skills
Critical thinking is the ability to think in an organized and rational manner to understand connections between ideas and/or facts. This skill involves the part of the front part of the brain that manages attention, memory, control, and flexibility. Children are constantly making these connections in their world and expanding their knowledge. For instance, they learn numeracy and literacy skills while playing with various toys and books, or while playing with shapes, or counting the pages in a book.
Physical play is crucial for the development of important motor skills and emotion regulation. Large motor skills like running, throwing, and pedaling; fine motor skills such as writing, coloring, and buttoning; balancing skills like skipping; strength-building by climbing monkey bars; and coordination through sports are some of the numerous skills that emerge from play. Eventually, children become completely independent as their motor and other body skills develop.
Most play requires creativity, but imaginative play, in particular, is great for building confidence. It allows children to practice what they see in real life and work through real-world problems. Play is a safe place to practice decision-making and build confidence. Structured play enables children to participate in risky play and test what they are capable of. This is a test of their limits as they work towards their goals in a safe space. As they succeed in achieving their goals in a safe space, their confidence develops and allows them to step out of their comfort zone to learn more.
Creativity is the final sum of critical thinking and skill development. Pretend play is one of the foundations in children’s world as it allows them to explore and analyze various scenarios, reactions, and conclusions. It exposes them to cause and effect. As per studies, pretend play leads to more sophisticated levels of interaction and higher cognitive ability.
In conclusion, children need a mix of both structured and unstructured play during their developing years. Structured play provides rules, discipline, and continuity, while free play balances it out with freedom and imagination. Kids ‘R’ Kids, Valrico provides the ideal environment for preschoolers to learn through play and grow into creative, confident, and empathetic individuals.
Why Kids ‘R’ kids?
The philosophy of “Hug First, Then Teach”, defines every aspect of what Kids ‘R’ Kids, Valrico stands for. Unlike many daycare centers or childcare providers, its methodology is a whole-child approach. It constantly strives to strengthen and encourage every child’s emotional, intellectual, social, and physical well-being through the expertise of its childcare providers and a unique partnership with parents.
Kids ‘R’ Kids International is accredited by AdvancED®, the world’s largest education community, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS/CASI). SACS/CASI is an accreditation division of AdvancED®. This accreditation ensures that the high accreditation standards are met and exceeded.
Call today at (813) 657-6200 to learn more about Kids 'R' Kids preschool (Kindergarten to Grade 5) or to schedule a visit.