Play is an important and integral part of leaning for children.
Children are tiny little sponges who absorb new knowledge and information every minute of every day, they are natural learners and they learn more in the first three years of life than they will ever learn again in such a compressed amount of time. Think about the sheer volume of new skills and knowledge learned in the first few years.
Infants enter the world with no understanding and only a small number of innate reflexes. These reflexes are primitive and are essential for survival, they are what drives a newborn to search for milk/breast within the first hour of being born. However babies are born with an incredible inquisitiveness and ability to learn.
Babies begin life as tiny and helpless beings, they have underdeveloped brains which have a smooth like surface, nonetheless they quickly grow and develop into walking, talking, learning and independent individuals. All of this learning occurs in the first 2-3 years of life and by the time a child reaches three years old there have been trillions of connections made in the brain, the vast number of connections quickly fill the brain and this causes the brain to change and adapt. During this time the brain develops ridges and folds which provide more surface area for new connections to be made.
In this time:
- Children learn to become mobile and can manipulate their own bodies.
- they learn a language and become effective communicators (some children even become bilingual).
- They have the ability to influence their own learning.
- They learn about the world and the environment around them.
- They learn how to be social and begin to understand social rules and form friendships.
- Many children learn self help skills and independence.
- Around the age of three, children begin to understand more abstract concepts such as counting.
- They learn to manipulate small objects using their fine motor skills.
- understand that there is a difference between right and wrong.
- Children also learn that they are able to influence and manipulate other people.
Play provides children with the tools for learning and it is an essential part of development in the early years. Children can learn about the vastness of the world and their environment through play. They learn about spaces around them and how they can interact with objects and other people. Play gives children the opportunity to interact with their peers and with adults, it allows them to practice language and communication skills and It also provides children with the opportunity to work through emotional difficulties and conflicts. Children in the early years setting are often found in the role play area ‘acting’ out scenarios they have experienced in their day to day lives. They pretend to be ‘mummies’, ‘daddies’, ‘police people’, ‘doctors’, ‘vets’, ‘animals’.. the list goes on. They use their imagination to play out these experiences.
Role play develops:
- Language and communication
- Understanding of social rules
- Builds confidence
- Promotes friendships
- Fuels imagination
- Encourages creativity
The early years setting is continually adapting and changing to provide optimal play opportunities for our youngest learners and early years practitioners provide support and encouragement for all children to learn, develop and play.
In our house we have opportunities to play in every room and we don’t restrict play to one area. There are certain areas which contain most of the toys and books, however there is evidence of the small human everywhere you look.
Our whole house has been adapted to help little B learn and play. If there are things i don’t want him to touch i move them out of reach/view, so everything he can reach.. he can play with.
I believe young children learn more from everyday objects and items rather than toys bought from the toy shop. Little B will happily play with plastic tubs, cups, and containers for a longer time than most of his toys. He has much more fun raking through drawers and cupboards than playing with actual toys we bought for him. There are certain drawers and cupboards he can go into freely and he spends ages playing with the contents.
One of his favourite things to do is pull ALL the books off the bookshelf.. now and again he tries to put them back too.
Little B loves to ‘help’ with the washing too. He is obsessed with the washing machine and the whole process of doing the washing. He is particularly good at dismantling the clothes horse and emptying the peg bag all over the floor.
He has also learned that ANYTHING of importance to mummy and daddy can AND will be hidden. He has become somewhat of an expert putting small things into larger things (he’s a transporter).
You may be thinking our house must be chaos.. and yeah your probably right, however I believe that these are valuable learning experiences for little B.
I can set up endless activities and tasks to help develop all areas of his development, however these experiences are directed by him and he is taking control of his own learning, therefore I just let him get on with it…
maybe we should hire a cleaner!
Flourishing little mind