By Katie Johnson, Manager, Gymboree Play & Music Surbiton
It’s no secret that Gymboree Play & Music places a lot of importance in ‘Play’ as a major learning process and here’s why:
When we play, in many cases, we place our undivided attention in our actions. For example: An actor is trained to be present, most famously a ‘Method’ Actor is trained to be nothing but their character. Of course, they understand that what they are ‘playing’ isn’t the truth, but that doesn’t detract from their dedication to the process of ‘Play’ in this instance.
From one perspective, this is how children live their everyday life, very rarely preoccupied with thoughts just in the present, forever reacting to the information around them.
If you place yourselves in a child’s shoes we can begin to understand why Maria Montessori states that ‘Play is the work of the Child’, as “Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” (Fred Rogers)
Unfortunately, when we look at the definition of Play it seems to paint a different picture:
Play: (verb) To engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.
To someone that works with or has children this definition is just crazy. Yes, playing is fun, but that doesn’t take away from its importance in our development and how we learn and understand the world.
Play has purpose!
- Ball games teach cause & effect, problem solving and even conversation skills where turn taking is involved.
- Peek – a – boo teaches object permanence and develops confidence and trust.
- Even just singing nursery rhymes builds our little ones’ memory. We have all seen how easy children pick up nursery rhymes due to repetition – this literally teaches your little one to learn new skills through practicing, a process that they will use their entire life to master new skills.
But play isn’t just about learning new skills, it’s also a great way to understand the world around us. When children engage in role play games such as ‘mummies & daddies’ or ‘doctors & nurses’ they are exploring the world by mirroring experiences they may have had or heard of. They understand that it isn’t the truth, but much like the Method Actor it doesn’t detract from their dedication to the game.
Playing is never a waste of time so try your best to invest in a little bit of play every day. Dedicate some time have some purposeful fun and teach your little one how the world works – after all you are their favourite play mate!