Play is not a four letter word

Playworld Unity CanopyPlay is at the center of everything we do here at Playworld. It’s incorporated into our thoughts, decisions, actions and creations. We’re constantly making time for short bursts of play throughout our workdays and brainstorming new ways to engage children and adults.

Oddly enough, play is not valued in the same way across the board. Play is often seen as frivolous, entertaining and the very thing that distracts kids from learning. It makes me sad that play is not more commonly thought of as something that enhances learning, which is why this UNICEF blog post resonated with me.

The post highlights why play is so much more than a simple activity and a “four letter word”. Play goes beyond providing children with a break or an outlet for their energy; it helps them form a groundwork for future learning and development. And that’s all really important if you ask me.

According to the post’s author, an education specialist for UNICEF South Africa, forgoing play compromises quality learning for “fast food” learning. This type of learning comes from the belief that there should be a quick and easy start to a life of successful education for kids.

He writes, “Quality in early learning and development is engaging, future-oriented, progressive, exploratory, incremental, timely, flexible, inclusive, creative, outcome-focused, and more, all woven into a tapestry of PLAY.”

There isn’t a magic button that triggers academic success in children—they need to explore, play and imagine on their own in order to truly learn.

At a very young age, children are learning mostly through play. By using their imaginations and exploring on their own, children are learning from their thoughts, actions and surroundings. Play serves as the glue that helps children build mental bridges between subjects and promotes dynamic learning and thinking.

I believe it’s important for parents and educators to wake up and understand the importance of play. As parents and adults who truly care about tomorrow’s generations, we should be encouraging, promoting and advocating for play in children’s lives.

If we want kids to be able to handle the challenges and changes of the 21st century, we need to make sure that they are equipped with the skills to do so. The skills children learn from play benefit them throughout their entire lifetime.

What have you or your children learned through play?

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