How important is play? by Jenna

Updated: May 17, 2020

As children we can all remember playing, whether it be with toys or with games that we made up. Play is a very vital element to long term development of ones self. Play encourages a child to learn independence, strategy and skills such as co operation and resilience. It could be argued that play alone does not automatically develop these abilities and it is scaffolding that truly elevates a child from what they can do alone to what they can do after support to develop their skills otherwise known as the area of proximal development.

Bennett et al. in 1997 argued that children needed adults support to make links between discoveries and thought process. There are very different approaches that are evident both in practice and theory throughout history as to the value of play and the role of an adult.

An adult historically was seen as an educator and the child a passive receiver of knowledge. In the 21st century we are seeing a shift in attitudes that promote active recognition of the voice and capacity of a child to have an active role in all matters that concern them. Bruce in 1999 argued that actually adults involvement and interference in play could create scope for damage to the natural progression of play.

Goouch in 2008 suggested a different approach involving following children in their choices of play and co constructing. This was an opposed concept to that of an adult designing and leading and measuring play according to a pre set of outcomes. Siraj-Blatchford and Sylva (2004) believed that the process of sharing play was key to developing thinking.

At Lilly Brook we try to strike a balance between play based co construction and adult led focus activities. We will soon be promoting videos on ideas for how you as a parent or professional can co construct as well as how scaffolding focus activities can be used to promote learning. There is no right or wrong way to play but it could be argued that finding the right balance is key to quality experiences.

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