5 Things to Know About Play

(from National Association for the Education of Young Children)


1.Children learn through play. Children learn and develop cognitive skills, physical abilities, new vocabulary, social skills, and literacy skills.


2.Play is healthy. Play helps a child grow and counteracts obesity issues facing many children today.


3. Play reduces stress. Play is joyful and provides an outlet for anxiety and stress.


4. Play is more than meets the eye. Play is simple and complex. There are many types of play: symbolic, socio-dramatic, functional and games with rules - to name just a few.


5. Play and learning go hand in hand. They are not separate activities. They are intertwined. Think about them as a science lecture with a lab. Play is the child's lab.



To the right are links to information I put together about what children are actually learning in the different areas of my child care. In the links you will find pictures related to the area, a list of what the children are learning, what equipment and materials I have that support and encourage that learning, and a breakdown of how many Illinois Early Learning & Development Standards for Preschool that are being met. I have specific standards broken down in each category that you can look at during the interview process. I was fortunate enough to be selected to be part of the focus group that helped field test the standards.


A play based, emergent curriculum is first and foremost, not a free for all. It is not unplanned. A child centered environment does not mean a teacher absent environment. It is child initiated, teacher framed. Plans and activities are developed and tweaked based upon the children's interests. It is my job to observe, ask open-ended questions, and bring in materials and equipment that help expand the children's knowledge and experiences. Throughout our day, the children have many opportunities to make choices regarding their play. Art materials are always accessible, we have plenty of time for reading, time for developing listening skills, group interaction, and learning responsibilities and rules. Children are still learning about colors, shapes, ABC's, counting, and sizes.













What are the benefits of a play based, emergent curriculum setting?


* Exploration - learning how to explore the world around them, experiment and discover new concepts. (Children here are free to explore as long as they are being safe, their friends are safe and they are not destroying property)


* Creativity - develops imagination, nurtures curiosity, and teaches children to think more creatively


* Socialization - promotes and practices good social skills needed for elementary school


* Confidence - enhances self-esteem, inner motivation, and confidence


* Concentration - teaches children how to focus and concentrate


* Expression - assists in expressing emotions, developing a sense of self and identity


* Affiliation - provides opportunities for children to connect with others, learn cooperation, and compromise


* Disposition - play improves ones mood, reduces anxiety and aggressive tendancies, promotes better sleep, and makes children happy



Nikki Goethals - Denver Child Care Examiner




Please check back as more are added!


Parent: What did you do today?


Child: I just played.                          

4 Learning Development Domains:


1. Cognitive Development: The construction of thought processes, including remembering, problem solving, and decision-making, from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. In other words, cognitive development is the emergence of the ability to think and understand. (healthofchildren.com)


2. PhysicalDevelopment: (large & small motor

Gross (or large) motor skills involve the larger muscles including the arms and legs. Actions requiring gross motor skills include walking, running, balance and coordination. When evaluating gross motor skills, the factors that experts look at include strength, muscle tone, movement quality and the range of movement.


Fine (or small) motor skills involve the smaller muscles in the fingers, toes, eyes and other areas. The actions that require fine motor skills tend to be more intricate, such as drawing, writing, grasping objects, throwing, waving and catching.



3. Social & Emotional Development: Social-emotional development includes the child’s experience, expression, and management of emotions and the ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others (Cohen and others 2005). It encompasses both intra- and interpersonal processes.



4. Language & Literacy Development: Early language and literacy (reading and writing) development begins in the first 3 years of life and is closely linked to a child’s earliest experiences with books and stories. The interactions that young children have with such literacy materials, as books, paper, and crayons, and with the adults in their lives are the building blocks for language, reading and writing development. This relatively new understanding of early literacy development complements the current research supporting the critical role of early experiences in shaping brain development. (zerotothree.org)



bizzy bee's

Child Care & Early Education

Research has determined that play is a child's natural way of learning. When a child is playing there are multiple areas of the brain at work. A strict, work-centric approach is not going to promote a love of learning and is more than likely to teach children memorization skills instead of critical thinking abilities.


There are seven types of play:


1. Physical - Fine and gross motor skills


2. Verbal - Reading, writing, and language skills


3. Logical - Reasoning, sequencing, problem solving, numbers, and patterns


4. Musical - Rhythm and melodies


5. Spatial - Visual, colors, creativity (improves observation skills and stimulates imagination)


6. Interpersonal - Engages communication, positive interaction, and teamwork


7. Intrapersonal - Independence, inner reflection, and emotions


Nikki Goethals - Denver Child Care Examiner