Play is essential for child's development, so much so that its importance is recognised by the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights. Play lays the foundation for a wide range of skills: motor, exploratory, language and social, to name a few.
For children to be well-developed in all these skills, it is necessary for them to get enough play time in school and a conducive environment that offers maximum benefits. Classrooms should have play areas equipped with educational toys. Students should have opportunities for both free and guided play. Teachers should regularly take children outdoors for structured and unstructured play.
Benefits of play time for kindergarten children
Empowerment and Confidence - Children are constantly learning as they interact with their environment. Having the freedom to choose how to play, what to play with and with whom to share playtime teaches children skills such as co-operation and self-advocacy. Play gives children a sense of mastery of their environment, enabling them to gain new competencies that provide them with the confidence and resilience they need to handle future challenges successfully.
When play is child-centred, young learners are in an optimal position to make decisions, move at their own pace and discover new interests. These skills pave the way for children to feel empowered and become innovators and leaders as they grow up.
Developing Creativity - Self-directed play can create an optimal setting for children to cultivate their creativity and pursue their passions. Curiosity and exploration during play enhance creativity in children. That is why it is important to provide the right resources to kindergarten children that can help them use their creative thinking, for example, age appropriate puzzles, blocks, art and craft sets etc.
Develops Social Skills - Playing with other children teaches them the skills necessary to get along with a group - sharing, negotiating and conflict resolution. Play also helps children express themselves. Even children who are not especially talkative may find it easier to communicate about their fears, wants and interests through play. Furthermore, the opportunity for creative play not only allows children to become more open-minded, but it also enhances their sense of self-efficacy in accepting new ideas. Play enables children to direct their own learning on their own terms.
Theory of how play supports child-development
The benefits gained through play align with well-known theories on child development. French psychologist Jean Piaget, who sought to measure children's intelligence and thought processes, suggested that young learners use two methods-- assimilation and accommodation-- to build on existing concepts and form new ones. Assimilation is concerned with how children integrate further information in the context of what they already know.
For instance, a child who learns the word "pencil" may then begin to apply that term to all writing implements. An adult may attempt to clarify the child's understanding by explaining the difference between a pencil and a crayon, requiring the child to fine-tune his current understanding of the concept. This latter process is known as accommodation. Play naturally facilitates these processes by encouraging children to use their imaginations and take on adult roles in age-appropriate ways. Assimilation and accommodation frequently overlap.
How is iPlay Implemented at GIIS Kindergarten?
Our early childhood Global Montessori Plus programme rests on five pillars, one of which is iPlay. As educators, we understand how important active play is for children in kindergarten. Besides having a positive impact on children physically, socially and emotionally, play is a catalyst for the development of cognitive skills such as numeracy and literacy, among others.
- GIIS Kindergarten provides plenty of opportunities for free play throughout the day. The kindergarten classrooms are well-stocked with age-appropriate toys and materials. These items are within easy reach so children can enjoy them when they've finished their school-work.
- Every class has designated times to visit the Toy Library in school, an exclusive collection of playthings that help children acquire phonics, numeracy and motor skills. Kindergarten students also have access to manipulative games, such as puzzles and blocks, which build critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- In addition to informal play, students have more structured playtime incorporated throughout the day. Much of the unstructured playtime takes place in the playground, which is equipped with swings, slides, medicine balls and cycles. Children participate in organised sports and other activities during PE classes.
- The school also provide age-appropriate STEM toys and resources in play areas. Children have ample opportunities to experiment with these materials without the interference of teachers. Independent play allows children to fulfil their natural curiosity without limitations.
Play is an integral part of growing up. GIIS strives to create an atmosphere conducive to active play as a natural part of children's development. The school’s kindergarten facilities are designed to nurture all aspects of students' progress to put them on track for lifelong growth and learning.
Click here to watch a GIIS Kindergarten in action.