“Play is not a specific activity, it’s an approach to learning, an engaged, fun, curious way of discovering your world.” Dr.Tamis-LeMonda.
At HFP, we trust children are intrinsically drawn to play. We provision the environment with a wide array of open-ended materials –limitless play options. We safeguard extended time for children to connect with new experiences, friends and story lines. We know children cannot help but learn when they are given the space, materials and time to do so. As adults, we have the privilege of supporting and witnessing children’s unabashed expressions of play and we have the responsibility to protect their ongoing access to it.
Countless articles tout the value of play. The New York Times recent article “Taking Playtime Seriously” (1/29/18 by Peri Klass, M.d) recognizes play as “a universal, cross-cultural and necessary attribute of childhood, essential for development and essential for learning.” Klass warns that we are “encroaching more and more on [children’s] time for playing.”
Klass advocates, “As children get older, we need to keep an eye on whether their schools give them time to play, we need to help them go on engaging with the world around them, and we might even be able to make that world a better environment for learning and play. Again, this is not about walling children off into special places where they can play, it’s about helping them play and learn in the world, in the homes and schoolrooms and larger environments in which they live and grow.”
In addition to providing calming tactile sensations, sensory play is ripe with learning opportunities. Children practice turn taking, build language skills and use materials creatively. Children mix potions, pour cups of hot cocoa or bake tasty sand cakes to honor a parent’s birthday. They refine both fine motor skills and language skills as they exchange ideas and scoops treats. Best of all, they learn without strain or effort. This is not some adult imposed “learning time.” This is play– joyful, easy learning. I’m grateful to be a part of a preschool learning community that understands play time is learning time.