Watching the development of your child is an amazing thing. From watching them turn over from their back to their stomach for the first time, to watching them learn to read and write, their brains are constantly constructing their understanding of the world. As caregivers and teachers, the staff at Heavenly Haven Day Care in Newport News plays a role in this developmental journey, and we take our role seriously. We use a Beka curriculum to guide our day, but also schedule plenty of time for play. We believe in the importance of play, and in today’s blog, we will look a bit more closely at why play is so important for children.

Sensory Engagement

As any parent or teacher of a toddler can tell you, they are highly driven by their senses. They explore the world with their hearing, sight, smell, touch, and taste. For example, if you give a child a bowl of chocolate pudding, they will eat some, sure, but they will also likely touch it and see how it can serve as an artistic medium.  For educational goals, it is important to harness this natural instinct to teach children what they need to know to be successful learners through their school years and successful adults. The best way to harness this is to allow children to explore the object of study (and the world in general) with all their senses. If you are studying the beach, the best way to bring the lesson home is to take the kids to the beach so they can see the expanse of the ocean,  feel the sand between their toes, smell the salt water spray, and hear the waves crashing and the seagull squawking. There is no classroom activity that can comprehensively teach something like this without engaging the senses of the children. When you set the stage for this type of learning, a child’s brain is stimulated and builds an understanding that will act as a foundation for further learning. For example, when a child who has recently been to the beach, is to read a book about the beach, they will be able to build on the knowledge they gained first-hand and more fully understand the lessons of the book.

Sensory Integration Issues

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, many children don’t get enough play, instead, they are spending too much time on academics. The result of this imbalance is that their nervous systems don’t get to develop properly and they can end up having sensory issues. These issues can range from a child being clumsy because they are not given enough chance to integrate their movements, to being easily overstimulated by sensory stimulation and prone to meltdowns. Just because we can’t see the nervous system develop, doesn’t mean that it isn’t experiencing changes and that it needs space and time to develop properly and free play is the time and space children need.  Now, sometimes sensory integration issues happen in children who do get plenty of time for free play, but the trend seems to be the more play children get, the fewer sensory issues they have. That’s just one reason pay is important. We’ll cover another reason in our next blog. If you are interested in seeing our facility call Heavenly Haven today to schedule a tour of our facility.