Active Play in the Early Years
Active Play is physical activity with random outbursts of high energy. This type of play is evident in Early Learners as they get bursts of energy that last for a period of time and then they are tired. They do not have the stamina and strength of an adult. As they get older and learn more skills the active play will increase as they are growing stronger. Active Play is really important in the Early Years as it is vital for their development. Children that do not have strong stimulus in their lives may suffer intellectually and socially. Active Play in the Early Years varies between ages. It is essential for all children. The National Physical Activity Recommendations state that toddlers (1-3 years) and Early Learners/Pre Schoolers (3-5 years) should be physically active every day for at least three hours which would be spread throughout the entire day. This sounds like a lot but they have masses of energy that come and go throughout the day. Active Play is very important for a child’s health, development and growth. Physical activity has many benefits for children. These include muscular, bone and heart strength, social skills, developing movement and co-ordination, PILES will be developed on and the child’s wellbeing and self-esteem will be developed. It is essential that the child care setting recognises the physical strengths of each child. The activities need to be simple and positive along with age friendly. Some children love competitive sports but there are plenty of games and activities that cater for a child with different active play interests. Repetition is needed as it will take an early learner longer to learn a game or activity as these skills are only being developed and they take time and children need to recognise the play activities that they like and are interested in. Another important factor in Active Play is the environment. This needs to be aesthetic and prepared for the early learners. The area needs to be a safe and positive environment for both indoor and outdoor play. Active play inside the classroom will develop their fine motor skills such as going from using a crayon to colour to using a colouring pencil. Outside, the gross motor skills are being developed as they are free to do large movements such as running, jumping and skipping. Hopscotch is an activity that will greatly develop the fine and the gross motor skills. Outdoor plays also allows the child to recognise the weather and to understand nature. Children depend greatly on the teachers in the Early Learning setting to provide them with activities every day. These need to be planned and thought out with careful consideration for each child. The adult is the role model for the children, they also need to treat each child equally and be very positive with their physical development. It is a good idea for the staff of the preschool setting to arrange a programme for the children and to stick by it. Observations can also be made by the staff to see how the child is developing through the medium of Active Play. This active play is so crucial for young children’s development that the Irish Government have installed a play policy in Ireland. Not many countries would have a Play Policy so it is a positive factor in our state. In 2000 the Government published the National Children’s Strategy. The Strategy stated; “The need for more opportunities for community-based play, leisure and cultural activities was high on the list of issues raised by children during the consultation process.” (Francis Spillane, NCO) It was proposed that the National Play and Recreational Policies in Ireland were to be reformed and redeveloped. The National Play Policy was introduced in 2004 by Brian Lenihan TD. This is our current Play Policy but after the Yes vote in the 2012 Children’s Referendum this could be changed. The Play Policy is recognised for younger children and the Recreation Policy is recognised for older children. The...
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