Play – the most important part of our day

As a nursery school teacher I am constantly asked about ‘academic input’ during the day. How much are the children being ‘taught’. This makes up a small part of our day, and it is an important aspect, mainly because it is during these times that we learn essential social skills including listening, turn taking, following instructions, asking questions and exploring answers. There are set targets we are required to meet, such as recognition of colors and shapes, building of language, counting out, and development of fine and gross motor skills. However, more importantly during the day, the children play. I find that parents are not overly convinced of the great value there is in play and fantasy in a child’s development. However, there are numerous studies which show that imaginative children have higher IQs and are better able to cope and learn. Allowing children to play out scenarios, and imagine different ways of being develops problem solving skills and ingenuity. Watching, without interfering, the children’s creative worlds is one of my favorite parts of the day. They are all so full of life, ideas flowing, negotiating with one another, caring and educating each other. We as parents and educators need to be sensitive of the process, respect what is happening during these moments of play, and enter their worlds as a guest, without our own agendas. And appreciate the magic that comes from a child at play.

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