A lot of teachers and parents are aware that playing is a crucial part of early childhood learning. What you may not know is that playing can be broken into different types, and each type supports a different type of learning.
Pretend play, which is also sometimes called dramatic play, has been singled out as one of the most important forms of play for young learners and naturally has, therefore, become a more and more important part of early childhood education programs. This is where children can play out imaginary roles — such as parent, doctor, hero — and this imaginary play is important for their development and their learning.
If you examine imaginary play a little bit closer you can start to see the ways in which it can help young learners develop. It helps them develop intellectually because they can develop their creativity. They can also start to apply skills that they have started to learn like organizing and planning skills.
Another couple of other fairly obvious areas that play can help develop is physical and social skills. Playing gives kids a chance to develop motor skills, to develop strength, and to increase their coordination. And, because kids like to play with their friends, this helps them begin to develop social skills like sharing and cooperation.
One final area where play can be quite beneficial is in a child’s emotional development. Through their own imaginative play children have a chance to develop their sense of individuality and it can also help increase their self esteem and feelings of purpose.
Pretend play is an important part of child development and should be a part of your child’s child care program as well. Structured learning can teach kids a lot of important skills, but allowing them time for free, imaginative play is a wonderful way to allow them to have fun and reinforce many beneficial skills.