The Importance Of Play

We all hear that play is important for children.  I know it’s important.  It’s their work; how they learn to make friends, negotiate, solve problems with objects, and solve problems with other children.  Play is having fun, and it’s also very hard work.  Learning how to pump a swing and ride a bike is a mountain of a challenge.  So is learning how to ask for a turn, and to stick up for yourself.

Recently I stood back and watched children playing in our Dinosaur Den at school.  The conversation was lively, and they wanted to make the dinosaurs talk with each other.

And they did!

Then a child asked me to take a picture of all the dinosaurs.  They had worked so carefully to get the dinosaurs all set up, before a dinosaur dinner.  Do you see the dinner, the multitude of rocks. carefully lined up?  I couldn’t get all the dinosaurs in one photo, so I had to make a video.  This was very important to the children.

And then it was time for the dinosaurs to have dinner.

Do you know how long it took children to line up all those rocks?  Can you see how carefully children are feeding and taking care of the dinosaurs?  Do you see how they are working together?

Play = Life Skills.

Children who play can better attend at school.

Children who play have greater academic success.

Children who play make friends.

Children who play develop kindness, heart.

Children who play are problem solvers.

(This is just the tip of the iceberg, key parts of a long list.)

Therefore, children who play grow into adults who have the skills to become good citizens as well as good people.  Isn’t that what’s most important?  Take the flip side – when a terrible, evil situation happens at the hand of one person (Columbine, Sandy Hook for starters), I immediately think of what they were doing when they were four-years-old.  They did not have a Dinosaur Den in which to play, nor a Mud Kitchen.  Therefore, they didn’t develop any life skills.  So, when someone wonders if play is important, yes it is!


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
This entry was posted in behavior, Early Education, Kindness, Play, preschool, Teaching young children and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

72 Responses to The Importance Of Play

  1. Opher says:

    Fabulous! And so important!

  2. Afzal Moolla says:

    I love it – just going to read all of your heartwarming piece in a bit.

    Warmest wishes to you and to all those dear to you

  3. beetleypete says:

    I love the dinosaur den, and the way the kids got their ‘dinner’ ready. Learning to work together to care for animals, even toy plastic ones, is a true life skill, and a sign of a caring and compassionate nature. Now all they have to do is to learn what dinosaurs actually did eat. 🙂 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      You are exactly right, Pete, and you said it well. Learning to work together and care in this way, with toy animals, equates to important life skills. And, they do know which dinosaurs are herbivores and which are carnivores. 🙂

  4. Ritu says:

    Love this Jennie 💜

  5. Darlene says:

    Playing builds teamwork skills, the most important skill to have in the world of employment according to surveys with employers. When I interviewed people for a living, I could usually tell if they had learned how to play as children. Of course, playing builds many other skills as well especially problem-solving. It must be rewarding for you to watch these skills develop. I love the dinosaurs!!

    • Jennie says:

      I love what you said, Darlene. You hit the nail on the head. Teamwork is definitely top dog in the world of employment. Like you when you interview, I can usually spot the people who didn’t play as children.

      And the list grows beyond social inequities. A study about ten years ago noted that new surgeons did not have the same degree of hand skills. The reason?

  6. Excellent, Jennie. Thank you for sharing.

  7. You are right, Jennie. It is creativity that makes some people great as they are the ones who can make the leaps of logic and inspiration with inventions.

  8. Jennie, and Robbie commented exactly my feelings about Play as well! Just wonderful teaching Jennie. 🙂

  9. So true!

    The dino den looks like loads of fun!

  10. You are so right, Jennie. This is an adorable post. I was smiling all the way. Loved the dino den and everything about it. Hugs.

  11. That’s a very impressive dinosaur den! Fun to watch them play and to remember how important it is to do so.

  12. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is another wonderful post from Jennie, an excellent teacher, on the importance of play!

  13. CarolCooks2 says:

    A lovely post and playing is as you know, Jennie how children learn so many life skills and how to question as well. Love the dinosaurs and can see how much the children are learning and sharing those social skills are so important it teaches them to be kind and considerate of others…A lovely post 🙂

  14. willedare says:

    To visit your world via your blog posts is to feel renewed and uplifted and reassured and inspired! Thank you for what you do with these small human beings and then thank you again for giving us these delightful glimpses into your day at school. I am going to see if I can figure out how to share this post via FB…

  15. Mireya says:

    Oh gosh I was in a tk class today and the kids at times played great but they couldn’t share , kicking and punching each other. I don’t know why and it broke my heart.

  16. Thanks for this, I totally agree about the importance of children just being allowed to play 🙂 I’m here in Beijing now and telling the kids to have a break and ‘play’, instead of solid studying, brings a look of horror across most of the parents’ faces. There is so much focus on sitting behind a desk and absolutely zero on play/interaction. This society will have major problems in years to come..

  17. Norah says:

    I love the posts like this, in which you share the children’s work, Jennie. They make my heart sing and I wish I was right there with you all. You make me feel like I am!

  18. srbottch says:

    Such a wonderful post, Jennie. You are 100% right. I wonder if today’s seemingly dominant play, computer games, has an opposite effect? Does it promote more aggressive behavior and limits the skill of getting along?

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Steve. I do think computer games, when they become a primary source of play, promote aggressive behavior and limit the ability to get along. But the child who is totally consumed with these games often did not have play skills to begin with, and computer games became the playmate. Loose-loose. And so sad.

  19. Please forward this to the Senate and the House of Representatives…since words don’t work maybe images would help!

  20. So important! It helps shape their behaviour as adults.

  21. sjhigbee says:

    Absolutely! I used to spend hours playing with both my children and my grandchildren – and now there’s another little one I will have a chance to play with…

  22. So beautifully written Jennie. Play is indeed hard wok and we better take a child’s play seriously . Thank you for reminding.

  23. L. Marie says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Jennie. I love to see children at play. I enjoyed that video and your photos. The dinosaur dinner was a clever idea! Bravo to the kids!

  24. Dan Antion says:

    Great post – so very important (I still love to “play”)

  25. Play is important for adults as well as children. We need to keep that special character that is a very sacred part of childlife. Thank you for this writing. It is such an important lesson. Hugs and blessings, Anne

  26. I agree 100%- play time is sooo important and the results are always showing up later on.

  27. I love this post! Great message and what a fun parade.

  28. shoes says:

    Yes! I love this. Play is necessary.

  29. Ah play, so under-rated, restricted and choreographed within so many school settings. You’ve written a wonderful piece here explaining how important free play and imaginative play really is. Wonderful 👍🏼

  30. ren says:

    And playing as an adult is really stinkin fun too!

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