Play is one of the most effective ways of promoting healthy development in children. As a result, the role of play in promoting physical, cognitive, social/emotional, and creative development cannot be overstated. In fact, a myriad of studies indicate that play enhances the development of different abilities in all aspects of child development. Moreover, studies indicate that constructive play is positively related to various early learning standards particularly in language/literacy, mathematics, and socio-emotional development. According to Brett et al. (2002), the preschool teachers’ perceptions of constructive play enhance the children’s ability to learn new things by socially interacting with other children and teachers. On the other hand, Drew et al. (2008) posit that literacy-enriched play facilities promotion of writing and reading in children particularly when writing and reading materials are included in play. It then follows that there is a sufficient evidence to suggest that constructive play enhances the development of language and literacy skills in children.
Furthermore, constructive play promotes development of skills in geometry, measurement, and spatial relationships. Here, when children engage in block building, which is a very popular play in many schools, they learn to solve complex problems besides creating different structures that enhance their understanding of spatial relationships. Moreover, play forms an integral part of socio-emotional development and learning in children. According to Drew et al. (2008), group play enables the children to gain social skills and knowledge, which will in turn promote social interaction. Additionally, play provides the children with opportunity to develop their social self by learning the social norms from parents, teachers, and their peers. Therefore, play is a very important aspect of learning considering that it encourages the development of problem-solving skills, logical reasoning, and inventive thinking in children.
Overall, play is one of the most effective instructional strategies in early learning. For example, consider a situation where children are using turkey basters, funnels, and water to play. In most cases, children will discover ways of using these materials by filling basters with water and squirting it out, especially if the children have already encountered same materials in a story they read in class. As a result, play enables children to practice things they have learned in class, besides helping them to develop various learning skills. In addition, when children encounter different materials in the play center, there are big chances that they will start asking questions regarding names and uses of these materials. In this way, children begin to develop basic inquiry skills, which will in turn promote their conceptual understanding (Drew et al., 2008). In conclusion, play is an integral part of early learning, and hence it should be embraced by teachers and parents in order to maintain the early learning standards.
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