Have you ever felt frustrated when repeatedly asking your child what they did in preschool today and they constantly answer; “we just played.” Have you had the chance to observe your child’s class and all you see is your child playing with other children? Or even worse you see your child’s teacher and the only thing he/she seems to be doing is playing as well. You send your child to preschool to learn the basics so that they will be ready for Kindergarten, right? Why are they wasting so much time playing? What you may perceive as wasted time is actually an essential and necessary part of your child’s development and learning process.
To play is to engage in or to function or perform. When your child is playing in the Dramatic Play or Block area in preschool they are not simply playing with toys. They are developing cognitive, socio-emotional and physical skills. Some of the cognitive skills being learned are curiosity, problem solving, intentionality, verbal skills, etc. Socio-emotionally they are learning confidence, cooperation, sharing and how to communicate appropriately. Physically their fine motor and gross motor skills are being developed. These are skills that will last them a lifetime and prepare them for life after preschool. Child Development Theorists Vygotsky and Piaget both emphasized the importance of play in the overall development of children.
So the next time you see your child’s teacher building blocks or pretending to sip tea with them you should focus on and value what is being learned. Your child’s teacher is adding to and facilitating growth and learning as they ask questions and model appropriate behavior as they participate in play. By being actively engaged with their teacher and classmates your child will grow and develop skills to better prepare him/her to function in society. Which is what you really want right?