Rethinking Child's Play
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Brought to you by the National PTA®
by Diane E. LevinIt's harder and harder to have "playtime" in my classroom. Some children roam around dabbling with this or that. There are many conflicts. I've stopped putting out some of the more traditional play materials, like play dough. Children don't do much with it. And then, there is so much pressure to teach the "basics" that there's not much time left for play anyway.--Kindergarten teacher
I keep hearing from my children's teachers that play's important. But I just don't see it. My kids don't seem to want to play much. When I tell them to "go play," they get into fights or play video games. Or they say they're bored and put on the TV set. And anyway, there's a lot to learn in this world and that's what schools should focus on--teaching kids what they need to know, not play. -- Parent of a 5-and 7-year-old
Educators and child development experts have long emphasized the importance of play in childhood. But, as illustrated by the two voices above, many parents and teachers are expressing increasing concern and confusion about the role of play in the lives of children growing up today. Why is play so important for children? Has something changed in society and childhood in recent years that is affecting play? Is there really cause for concern and, if so, what can the adults who care for children do about it?
Why is play important?
Play is vital to most aspects of children's social, emotional, and intellectual development and academic learning. It is one of the most powerful vehicles children have for trying out and mastering new skills, concepts, and experiences. Play can help children develop the knowledge they need to connect in meaningful ways to the challenges they encounter in school --- for instance, learning literacy, math, and science, as well as how to interact positively with others.
Every individual child's play evolves and changes over time as children mature and gain experience and skill. Play also varies among children based on age, their experiences (which provide them with the content they bring to their play), family background and cultural group, and individual disposition.
All Play is Not the Same>>
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