Importance of Play in Early Childhood

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Play is an important part of children’s life that keeps them healthy both physically and mentally. It is a way through which children explore their imagination, build various skills required for their development in different areas. In this essay, importance of play in children’s learning and development is discussed in relation to Piaget’s cognitive theory, Vygotsky socio-cultural theory and Te Whaariki. Moreover, the teacher’s role and strategies used in encouraging the play-based curriculum in early childhood education are also discussed. Play is the foundation stone of children’s healthy and productive lives (Oliver & Klugman, 2002) and is also a significant means of child’s learning and development (Zigler, Singer & Bishop- Joseph, 2004). Play influences the child’s mind to such an extent that the powerful experiences during early childhood can be easily memorised even after a long period of time (Dockett & Fleer, 2002). Children become familiar with their cultures, gain knowledge of the world around them, help them make their own discoveries and understand the rules and the consequences (Klein, Wirth & Linas, 2004). Te Whaariki also values play as a meaningful learning and recognised spontaneous play as an important aspect which promotes the holistic development of the child (MoE, 1996). Children engage in play neither to teach nor to learn but just only with the aim of playing (Dockett & Fleer, 2002). Physical development is one of the important factors of the child’s life that is promoted through play. It develops gross and fine motor skills, helps them maintain their health and increases their confidence (Emslie & Mesle, 2009). Outdoor play activities enhance child’s physical well- being by getting them involved in some physical exercises which keep them healthy and free from obesity (Oliver & Klugman, 2002). Te Whaariki also focusses on providing the healthy environment to children where they learn to develop control over...
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