The power of play should never be underestimated as it is a fundamental part of childhood and critical to a child’s development. It is through play that children learn many life skills in a very natural way while having fun and being happy. How children play is greatly influenced by a number of factors such as their age, gender, interests, culture, etc. It is through play that children build self-confidence, develop social skills, become imaginative and creative and learn about themselves and the world around them.
Creating a rich environment, both indoors and outdoors, which encourages the development of play and supports the child’s imagination and creativity will provide them with a foundation for their adult life. Developing interesting and engaging experiences for the child, providing age and development stage appropriate materials, responding to their individual interests, and celebrating their efforts and achievements are all ways in which the child’s learning and development is enhanced.
Both Aistear and Síolta emphasise the importance of play in the child’s life and provide many ideas to help create an enabling learning environment that supports and cultivates play. According to Aistear‘s principle on play and hands-on experiences, “much of children’s early learning and development takes place through play and hands-on experiences. Through these, children explore social, physical and imaginary worlds. These experiences help them to manage their feelings, develop as thinkers and language users, develop socially, be creative and imaginative and lay the foundations for becoming effective communicators and learners (Principles and themes, 2009, p.11).”
Click here to access Aistear Síolta Practice guide which gives access to videos, ideas and resources that support learning and development through play.