Developmental Play

Developmental Play

Image by Steve and Jemma Copley

This is my second contribution to PhD in Parenting’s Carnival Of Play. You can read my other post/s here:
Carnival Of Play and Playdough Recipe

We are lucky enough that at the school where our children attend, they value play and see it as an essential part of a child’s day. The junior school runs developmental play sessions daily, where children work in small groups on play based activities.

The activities range from playing with lego, a craft activity, the corner shop, Little People Toys etc. They run for 45 minutes in their group of 6-7 children.

A couple of weeks ago, the year one and two teachers asked me to be interviewed about developmental play (on video) for a presentation that they were delivering at a teacher’s conference. I thought I would share my answers with you below and also a quote that helps to put developmental play into context as well:

If the purpose is more important than doing it then it is probably not play! Dr Stuart Brown

Why do you believe Developmental Play is important?

Up until they reach school, play is the way children make sense of the world. It is naturally the way they approach the world around them.

Developmental play provides opportunity for active learning. Often younger children find sitting still for long periods of time challenging and they can get distracted.

It allows children to become relaxed and have some fun. This then can allow for absorption and effective learning. They are receptive to new ideas and concepts.

Do you support Developmental Play?

Absolutely. It offers so much more than just an educational learning opportunity – language, social skills, risk taking are all areas that children get to practice in the play environment.

Developmental play can provide a change in routine from their structured learning and can help reinforce concepts and tasks being taught.

What skills do you believe children are developing?

The skills that children learn from the developmental play are numerous and vary depending on the activity:

  • Numeracy – Through the task of sequencing. In a craft activity the children need to follow a pattern of circle cardboard then patty pan. Sequencing is one of the first steps on the path to numeracy.
  • Social skills – As they have to work in a small group they need to practice sharing, co-operation, negotiation and turn taking.
  • Imagination and creativity – Many of the activities are open ended like construction or beading. They give children the opportunity to design and create how they want to.
  • Problem solving – As the groups are autonomous they need to try and solve their own problems. This could be as simple as trying to build something and it is not working or deciding who gets the last pink bead!
  • Fine motor – Many of these activities have the children practicing their fine motor skills like, threading, cutting and pasting etc. This will help them with letter formation and pencil control when learning to write.

What benefits have you seen in your children educational development?

I think the key benefits all come from the children having fun! From there other great benefits can come:

  • It is confidence building as they can create their own successes.
  • Willingness to try through exploration and investigation.
  • Enhancing creativity.
  • Fosters enjoyment of learning.
  • Increases willingness to participate.

Does your school encourage play?