I spent all day today in the preschool room of an early learning academy. One of the reasons I love this school is because they believe in the philosophy that learning occurs through opportunities to play and do projects, as opposed to sitting and listening to a teacher. I believe as well that early learning is based on the foundation of play. There is a beautiful saying on the wall of the classroom where I work that basically says ‘teaching and learning should not occur in opposite banks of the river but that both student and teacher should ride the current together and learn along the way’! It is fun to “play” with the little ones all day and be a facilitator of discovery while they are learning everything from manners to motor skills to complex concepts during the process. I hope you enjoy this powerful guest post. – jenny at dapperhouse

Play is a fundamental part of children’s learning. Children are hands-on, kinesthetic learners, who learn best through experience. Play is the foundation for all areas of development. It aids in the development of motor-skills, social and emotional well being, cognition, creative skills and language development.

Where do Toys Fit In?So where do toys come into all of this? Play is nearly always based around toys and equipment. They provide endless opportunities for play and learning. For example, the humble ball is used for kicking, catching, throwing and passing, rolling. Many children will make up their own games and sports in different settings. Children have great imagination and play with toys in many different ways.

A life Without ToysWithout toys children are disadvantaged in several different aspects. For example, without crayons, pencils, paper, play dough, books and engaging activities for our fingers, we cannot expect a child’s fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination to flourish. It is extremely likely that a child with no opportunities for fine motor play may present hand writing problems and poor fine motor skills for life. Adults often underestimate the importance of toys, but the truth is children learn much more through play and hands on experience, than from any other means of teaching.
What are they Learning?So what exactly are children learning when they play? Dramatic play and props build children’s social and emotional skills, play money assists with counting and maths, interactive toys provide a solid understanding of cause and effect, climbing, playing catch and sports enhance motor skills, puzzles are great for cognition, and books great for literacy. Most importantly, childhood should be about discovery, exploration, growing, developing and having fun!
Thank you Janel Pfeifer (one of my sweet and bright dapper friends in Australia) for this amazing post.