“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning, but for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred (Mr.) Rogers
Play is one of the five practices we stress in storytime. But why? How does play help our children get ready to read?
Children use play to:
- Experiment with scientific concepts (cause and effect, gravity, balance)
- Be someone they're not, all while knowing they can safely return to their roles as children.
- Navigate new social territory when playing with other children and/or adults.
- Problem-solve physically and socially, developing creativity and imagination in the process.
- Build long-lasting and trusting relationships with peers and adults.
- Discover new vocabulary words and gather background knowledge for later use.
- Talk about their world and tell stories.
So how can you make the most of playtime with your child? Follow their lead. Take an interest in what they're interested in. Questions are good, but try to keep them to a minimum, and keep them centered on the activity without leading.
Be yourself and prepare to get silly!
"'Pretend' often confuses the adult, but it is the child's real and serious world, the stage upon which any identity is possible and secret thoughts can be safely revealed.” – Vivian Gussin Paley from her book The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter