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Preschool for toddlers breeds development, growth and learning. And, believe it or not, play becomes the cornerstone for all of this. Your child gains invaluable skills through play in preschool. These important experiences cannot be put aside in favor of rigorous testing and formal academic teaching. Playtime offers so much more than what could be gained by sitting in a classroom all day. We discuss just a few of the benefits of play in preschool for toddlers.
Play Sets the Foundation for the Schooling Years
Some preschools may place more importance on academic learning because they believe that this is the only skill children need to be successful in school. But this is just not the case, especially for kids aged 5 and under. And this is not how skills come to life in preschoolers. Play builds basic social skills and teaches children how to interact with others and how to behave in groups. Simple acts such as sharing and taking turns with toys introduce the basic social skills your child will need later on in life.
The transition to primary school can be difficult enough. It’s even tougher if your child comes from a preschool which did not focus on play. Children might be overwhelmed or anxious by the interactions with others which are required in school. The foundations which are built through play are priceless.
Play is Good for Mental and Physical Development
Play is an essential component of your child’s development, no matter how vague or unintentional their play might sometimes seem. Any form of play provides whole-body sensory experiences. Playing outside fully engages all the senses and challenges your child’s body and mind. Even storytime provides benefits such as concentration and pre-reading skills. Puzzles and blocks are perfect for developing initial problem-solving and math capabilities. In preschool, many kids just aren’t ready to productively engage in formal learning. But learning takes place in a variety of other ways through play.
With play, sensory, cognitive and motor skills are enhanced. Gross and fine motor skills advance during play. Games played individually or in groups get kids moving. Gross motor skills can be developed by playing outside with a ball or on the playground. Activities that require more precise, concentrated movements such as collaging or drawing are perfect for fine motor skill development.
Play Develops Language and Social Skills
As we have briefly discussed, play develops basic social skills. It helps later interactions with other children and adults. Play in preschool teaches children about problem-solving, conflict resolution, self-regulation and other components of social skills. Unstructured group play sets the foundations for these skills. When kids are left to their own devices to explore and experiment, valuable learning occurs. Play which is facilitated by a teacher is also beneficial. Children learn how to express themselves, communicate with others, and navigate various social scenarios.
A Lack of Play is a Major Problem
The preschool years form an essential period of development. Children need play to spark development and learning that cannot be mimicked or achieved through academics. If toddlers don’t get enough opportunities to play, they will start school with academic, emotional, social and physical disadvantages. These weaknesses can be almost impossible to rectify which means that your child’s successful schooling career is at risk. They could have difficulty socializing with their peers, controlling their emotions, and concentrating and cooperating in class. The signs of a lack of play might not instantly be noticed, but they will certainly appear as the years go by. They can have a serious impact on your child’s life.
In our fast-paced, goal-driven world, play needs to be prioritized over formal academics. Play forms the building blocks of essential skills that children need to have successful, happy, enriching learning experiences. An academic approach is not the answer. Rather, a play-based, developmentally appropriate preschool experience will propel your child in all areas of their life.