PLAY: Essential Component of Early Learning

PLAY: Active Engagement in Free Choice Centers is the Heart of Early Childhood Instruction play office

Free Choice Centers is a time for exploration, discovery and “messing about” that is uninterrupted and of the child’s interest and choosing.

The adult role is to:

play boat❖ stimulate language and learning development through self and parallel talk

❖ ask thought provoking open-ended questions

❖ become a play partner

❖ provide materials that provoke engagement and discovery and exploration

❖ seamlessly weave in teaching points

❖ scaffold children’s thinking at each child’s individual zone of proximal development

❖ observe and document children’s actions and words

❖ reflect on the process of play to determine further learning opportunities and next steps

❖ provide a stimulating, intentionally designed environment that supports a variety of engaging play experiences.

NAEYC position on Play:

Play is an important vehicle for developing self-regulation as well as for promoting language, cognition, and social competence… Children of all ages love to play, and it gives them opportunities to develop physical competence and enjoyment of the outdoors, understand and make sense of their world, interact with others, express and control emotions, develop their symbolic and problem-solving abilities, and practice emerging skills. Research shows the links between play and foundational capacities such as memory, self-regulation, oral language abilities, social skills, and success in school.

Teachers allocate extended periods of time in play centers (at least 60 minutes) so that children are able to get deeply involved in an activity and sustain dramatic play, construction and other activities at a complex level. Children have ample time and opportunity to investigate what sparks their curiosity.

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