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under5s - The Importance of Play
The Importance of Play
Plan 2 Play Planning from the Under5s Download Centre The Importance of Play

Practitioners and parents of the early years are reminded all the time about the importance of ensuring that children have the best start in life - with the under fives there is the birth to three matters curriculum to consider and the birth to three matters guidance. All the time, we are thinking about what is best for the children, what opportunities can we offer them - but the most important activity that children can do is play.

What is play?

Play is activity that is freely chosen by the children - they choose what they play with, how they use it and where it takes them. It is an opportunity for children to explore their world, their relationships, encourages them to be flexible as they adapt to challenges that they encounter. It shouldn't be lead by adults, although adults can with careful observation significantly enhance the child's opportunities.

Points to Remember:

    * Children have a right to play.

    * Play should provide opportunity for risk and challenge, within a safe environment.

    * Play should be active - not passive. Children should be busy doing!

    * Children should be able to play in their own way. There is no right and wrong way to play.

    * Most importantly - there are not necessary any results to show at the end.

    * Play is fun!


Easy steps to encourage play! 

    * Turn off the television.

    * Ensure there is plenty of time for the children to play - so that they are not time limited, or that as things evolve they have time to complete their activity.

    * Leave toys out for the children to use over time - if you can, that way the play scene can continue over several days.

    * Add selective resources, that can enhance play - real objects are much more fun, and needed be expensive!

    * Take play outside, as well as indoors.

    * Join in with your child at time following their lead - if they want to play at families and have given you the role of a baby, and that your asleep - take the hint.. they want you to be quiet, observe their activity, but don't start talking and suggesting them make you a cup of pretend tea - your a sleeping baby!

    * This is a great opportunity to listen to your child, and to find out what is important to them - it is about developing and reinforcing their needs and understanding - not yours!

Easy Play Scenarios at home:

    Your Home

    Provide resources so that your child can do things at home, home corner resources - cooking equipment, play food, dusters, brush and dustpan, tea sets, notepads, and telephones - all help a child to play at being home owners. Add some dolls, a highchair, a play bath and the child could become a parent!

    The Office

    Set up an area at home as a home office - an old keyboard, a cardboard box computer, a phone, various pens and pieces of paper - the post office is great for forms to fill in! A briefcase, mobile phone, a handbag - and watch what happens as the child plays at being at work.

    The shop

    Collect boxes and packages for a couple of weeks - and set up your own shop, introduce some canvas shopping bags, a purse, a till or tin to collect the money, a few credit cards (you can pick these are from supermarkets), some money, and paper and pens, and watch what happens - maybe you could be the first customer to get the play started.

    If is it successful - then change the shop - a toy shop could be next, a sweet shop, a cake shop, ask your child what they would like to sell, and help them achieve their goal - and remember a supermarket sells everything!

    A Car wash

    Perfect for under fives (but it does need supervision) - bowls of soapy water, old sponges, tokens and a collection of ride on toys - we all wash our cars from time to time, but how about providing the resources for the children to do so

    The Vets or Doctors

    Add a doctors kit, throw in some bandages and cheap plasters (check for allergies), or even stickers can do the trick, a couple of beds/boxes and some cuddly animals or dolls, and see if the children can make them better. This is great if they have any worries, fears or recent experiences as they can play out what is important to them.

As well as creating scenarios - setting the scene for play - once you have shown your child how to be creative with the toys, not only will they be occupying themselves, developing their self esteem and confidence, but they will be preparing themselves for the real world and having FUN!

Helen Renouf

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under5s - The Importance of Play
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