‘Play is important for learning the social skills (including language and communication) that develop over time and will be the foundation for future relationships.
Through play, children learn about:
Play helps children develop emotional skills
Through play, children can express their feelings, even before they have the words to say how they feel. Play also fosters imagination and becomes the basis for creativity in art or music or other ways of self-expression. These ways of personal expression can help people cope with feelings all their lives’.
Play can also help children learn impulse control. They learn to think about what they want to do, to plan and to be patient. On a daily basis, we see examples of impulse control, for example, a student will take time and care to build a castle with moat and underground tunnels and then it’s suddenly knocked down. If they’re building a castle and get frustrated and knock it down, they have lost their castle. If another student knocks the castle down, there can be a temporary battle providing each student the opportunity to seek resolution. Through play, children gradually learn they need to control their impulses to achieve what they want.
Play is a way that children can work through and resolve problems
For example, our prep students usually start their play times doing exactly what they want to do no matter who is playing with them. As they move into year one, students begin to enjoy each other’s company and begin to negotiate play activities the group wishes to engage in. These early stages of negotiation often bring arguments until students realise the element of turn taking: today we play your game and tomorrow we play mine.
By the time students reach year two, many are starting to engage in more formal games such as creating teams to play soccer, or half court netball, or choreographing dance routines or plays. The importance of establishing the ‘rules’ of the game come into play and learning how to resolve conflict when those ‘rules’ are broken.
Students across year one and two are constantly making, breaking and renewing friendships as they learn how to negotiate, problem solve and communicate with the various personalities of the group.
Play helps children develop physical skills
Children like games that test their physical abilities (motor skills) – running, climbing, jumping and exploring. These games bring children happiness and build their confidence.
THE PLAY AMBASSADOR PROGRAM
As part of our leadership program, year 4 students have the opportunity to undertake training to become PLAY Ambassadors.
The PLAY program is a fun lunch time program run by trained student leaders.
As part of the PLAY program students learned:
When the junior students feel like doing something a little different during their lunch break, they head over to the ‘PLAY’ area and join in the games.
Our wonderful PLAY Ambassadors meet every Monday at lunch to plan which games will be run that week and who will be in charge of setting it up and running the games. Ambassadors advertise the games through the loudspeaker and at assemblies.
Without the dedication and commitment of our budding leaders, the PLAY program wouldn’t be possible. The PLAY program helps students develop social skills and friendships and connects students across the different ages. The program has been running successfully now for over 4 years.
We’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank our year 4 leaders of the PLAY program.
REFERENCE: Italicized sections of this text are extracted from the ‘Be You: Beyond Blue’ website https://beyou.edu.au/fact-sheets/social-and-emotional-learning/why-play-is-important