In our last blog, we covered some of the reasons that children need plenty of time for free play. The developmental growth of the nervous system depends on the time and stimulation that free play provides. Heavenly Haven Day Care in Newport News provides excellent care for infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children. We include academics in our program to help children get ready for kindergarten and for their lives beyond that. Besides academics, we provide time for children to play freely, as children love to do. In this week’s blog, we will look at a few of the other benefits of free play for children.
When kids have unpressured time to play with blocks, Play-doh, or other building materials, they are developing their hand-eye coordination and the intuitive elements of design. Hand-eye coordination is part of spacial intelligence that is essential for all children to develop. It will be called into action in school for handwriting, 3D projects, and artwork, and in life for riding bicycles, driving cars, and dancing. When they work with others to build a castle or Play-doh faces, children are also learning to play together This coordination is an essential skill for life.
We can dig deeper into cooperation and play to see different types of social development that develop through free play. When children are very small, they play by themselves paying little to no attention to other children, this is known as solitary. Between the ages of two and three, they begin what is known as parallel play, where they happily sit with another child and play, but they don’t play together, just next to each other, hence parallel.
This type of play occurs between the ages of about 3.5 years to 4.5 years old. This stage of play where children share, take turns, and show interest in what the other children are doing, but do not play together toward a common goal.
This type of play develops between the ages of 4 to 6 years old and is characterized by children working toward a common goal. This phase is a chance for children to work on social skills, verbal skills, and empathy
It is important to remember that all children develop at their own rates, and so long as they are close to the suggested age ranges when they cross these socio-emotional thresholds, they will get there eventually. If you are concerned that your child is lagging behind in these areas, ask your pediatrician for advice or a referral.
Another type of play that is important in the development of a child is role playing. The costume bin in any daycare room is one of the favorite stations for a good reason. Children are constructing their understanding of gender roles, and being human, and how adults interact by role-playing such things as family, store, or school. They get to practice behavior, they can push boundaries of their understanding, and they get to ask questions. And when they role play together, children teach other about of these things as well.
The staff at Heavenly Haven understands the importance of play, and we balance our academics with play so that children in our care are ready for kindergarten when that big day comes.