The preschool years are a time for discovery and learning, so although an educational curriculum is helpful during this age, play is just as important.
The preschool years are full of major accomplishments, both physically and mentally, for children. Incorporating play into your preschool allows children to explore and unlock their natural ability to create, think, and reason. The beauty of playtime is that it stimulates all these things while children are just enjoying themselves.
Sadly, as we get older, our imagination becomes limited because we experience so much reality. Children, on the other hand, are exploring a whole new world, and imaginations run wild. Imaginative play serves an essential purpose.
As children play dress-up or pretend to be in another place or time, they make decisions and discover the world around them. Pay attention, and you will see a child dealing with emotions and feelings as they explore their imaginations.
In a preschool, you can encourage imagination with dress-up stations that allow children to be firefighters, archaeologists, mommies or daddies, or whatever they choose. Or an area with puppets so that children can make fun voices and express emotions through pretending. Listen to your preschoolers while they play, and you’ll hear what kind of pretending they enjoy.
As we watch children run and play, all we see is exercise and children having fun. Thankfully, both of those things are true. However, there are a few aspects of physical play other than exercise and fun that make it an integral part of a child’s development.
Socializing often occurs while kids are running around and enjoying physical activity with other children. Gross and fine motor skills develop as they kick a ball or learn how to swing. Cooperation naturally happens on a playground with children taking turns on the slide.
Consider an indoor playground for your preschoolers as part of their options during playtime. Even in a smaller space, you may be able to install a ball pit or a tunnel slide. For safety’s sake, always have a professional install an indoor playground.
Hands-on play allows children to discover with their senses. Touching and visualizing while building and creating improves a child’s fine motor skills. Wooden blocks and building blocks of all types are great ideas for a hands-on learning station in your preschool. While we see a child stacking blocks, they may be seeing the world’s tallest building.
Play-Doh and modeling clay can be very calming to children if they are in a restful mood or need to settle down. While squeezing and shaping these soft materials, a child has to control their hand movements and is discovering new sensations while playing.
Setting up stations or play areas is an easy solution when incorporating play into your preschool. They give children options, leading to the development of their decision-making skills and allowing them to choose an activity that suits how they are currently feeling.