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Imaginative Play

Play is the basis of experiential learning. Play takes many forms, but the heart of all play is pleasure. While the exact nature of play evolves and becomes more complex as we grow, play at all ages brings pleasure. In addition, with pleasure comes the powerful drive to repeat the pleasurable activity. With repetition comes mastery. The more comfortable a child feels with the world, the more likely she will explore, discover, master, and learn. This cycle starts with curiosity.

Play can satisfy curiosity as the child explores his environment. Children are driven to interact with their world, to build a structure of knowledge through the “experiments” of play. Play and exploration are crucial activities for young children for they help the child’s brain develop in optimal ways. The more the child is allowed to move, explore, and experience, the more complex are the brain connections that are developed. This leads to greater intelligence and creativity.

Play sharpens physical reflexes. When a child kicks a ball across a playground she is practicing coordination by balancing on one foot to kick with the other. Intelligence is developed during imaginative play, a core component of our curriculum. Using imaginative play the child explores the use of symbols and symbolic thinking forms the basis for later abstract thinking. When a child pretends a stick is a hammer and builds a castle from rocks and sticks, she is using symbolic thinking to transform items found in nature into a fantasy castle. Social bonds are strengthened when children play together for they learn interpersonal and social skills. Play requires children to make choices and often involves strategizing, or planning to reach a goal. This leads to problem solving and negotiating skills.

Play meets many deep seated emotional needs of the young child. It enables them to make sense of the many aspects of the world that surrounds them. Studies have shown compelling evidence of a relationship between the lack of childhood play and later eruptions of violence.

© 2012 Starbright Preschool
www.starbrightpreschool.com