There’s an age old saying that goes: “All work and no play makes Jack/Jill a dull boy/girl!”. While that might seem quaint, in some respects today, the trained staff at daycare in Olney know the wisdom of that saying well. Playtime for preschoolers not only builds a child physically, but it also improves their cognitive and socio-emotional wellbeing. Without playtime embedded in a child’s learning and leisure schedule, young kids might not move down a path of healthy development of mind and body. Nor would they learn many of the skills needed later in life.
Importance of Playtime
Kids and playtime go hand in hand. So, it’s natural for anyone who sees a group of children playing, to think all that’s happening is kids having a good time. Not true! Playtime delivers more than just a “kids being kids” experience to youngsters indulging in play. And youngsters, engaged in fun-filled play at a preschool in Olney MD, are having more than just fun.
In play, kids gain much more than letting off steam and burning pent-up energy. Some of the benefits that preschoolers get from play includes:
As kids go through their playtime routines, they certainly hone their physical fitness. But they also begin to perfect their sense of balance, hand-eye coordination, develop agility and flexibility, and build stamina.
Beyond the Physical
But a lot of the above are physical reasons why playtime is important for young kids. They focus on getting kids out of their chairs and off couches, away from their desks, and running, jumping, and moving about – either individually, or as part of a team of players. But children attending formal learning and caregiving settings, like daycare in Olney MD, also gain from emotional and cognitive benefits of playtime:
More importantly, playtime helps children understand the importance of dealing with challenges and difficult situations. If a child is unable to build a brick castle at their first attempt; or if the structure tumbles as they hoist the final piece, it makes them start from scratch. While that’s a lesson about dealing with a tough situation, it also helps them value persistence.
So, despite there being a lot of laughing, screaming, shouting and excitement during playtime at preschool in Olney MD, it’s not just fun and games that takes place. Woven into every play activity, and embedded into every toy and game, is the objective to develop preschoolers in mind, body, character, and spirit.
By now, parents, guardians, and other homecare givers will have grasped the importance playtime has in the lives of preschoolers. Clearly, because play offers so many benefits, it might be good to let youngsters indulge in play all the time – right? Not entirely correct! We’ve also heard another saying, that goes something like this: “Too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing!”. And the same holds true for playtime too.
A child’s playtime must be something they look forward to, and a part of their day that is “different” from the rest of their day. If all they did is play, then that may erode many of the previously highlighted benefits that playtime offers. For instance, because all they did was play games or play with toys, there’d be no sense of curiosity or discovery left to pursue. In fact, over indulgence in play might make play boring – an activity that kids could potentially shun.
Imagine what could happen to a child after weeks of unending play:
One might argue that, since most preschoolers “learn through play”, they’re really playing all the time anyway. Not quite true. Neither too much, nor too little playtime is good for preschoolers. That’s why the administrators and staff at daycare in Olney MD plan and balance playtime carefully.
Play activity is an integral part of the day care’s curriculum, and the center embeds some play into learning activities. However, there are also designated playtime segments in a child’s day, where all they do is have fun and enjoy themselves – free from paying attention to books, or learning to write the alphabet.
Playtime in a Digital Era
We now live in a digital era where “play” is more common on virtual playgrounds than in physical play environments. For instance, kids play soccer on a soccer field; but they can also sit on a couch and play soccer virtually, with their friends. While some virtual play is healthy for youngsters, aiding in building mental acuity, tuning fine motor skills, and perfecting hand-eye-movement and coordination, left unregulated, digital play can be harmful, robbing preschoolers of the joys and benefits of “real world” playtime.
The Pew Research Center has found that some parents grant access to smartphones to kids below 4-years old – and some as young as 2-years of age. It’s likely that the vast majority of those parents supervise access to those devices. However, playing a game on a smartphone or tablet, isn’t the same as playtime at a preschool in Olney MD. Even while closely monitored, the child doesn’t learn the same skills as when he/she plays with other kids – whether in the classroom or the playground. And, virtual play doesn’t tap a vast majority of the same mental and physical faculties that in-person playtime does.
While screens of all sizes can add some excitement in the lives of young children, experts warn about exposing preschool-age kids to screen play too early. It’s no wonder then, that the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests having no screen time for babes and toddlers under 2-years of age, and no more than 1-hour of screen time a day for those aged 2 to 4-years old.
Despite those strict guidelines for digital play, there’s no doubt that online play is very much a part of our kids’ lives today, and it’s important for us to learn to weave it into the fabric of an overall preschooler’s playtime regime. But, how can parents, guardians, and caregivers do that? Well, here are some best practices:
Closely monitored, regulated, and supervised digital play can become an important part of any playtime strategy. The trick is to include age-appropriate games, that not only stimulate mental activity, but also encourage the physical aspect of play.
Digital kids need digital playtime. But online or virtual playtime alone, is no substitute for the types of experiences that playtime activities at daycare in Olney MD offer. Some virtual games, like Play-Doh, are great for unlocking young children’s creative streaks. Others, like Pokémon GO, can help children run around and get on the go. These are important skills that children in today’s digital era must cultivate at a young age.
However, parents, guardians and caregivers mustn’t lose sight of the fact that there are also other experiences – more tactile, in-person ones – that digital play can’t deliver, but which traditional playtime provides to preschoolers. The best solution is to follow the advice of the experts and create a happy blend of selective online play, while also stressing the need for in-person playtime with peers, siblings, and groups of childre
MCCA has been recognized by the Maryland State Legislature for its commitment to Montgomery County issued a quality programs and special needs child care Proclamation in 2016 to MCCA for its commitment to Montgomery County child care for more than 50 years. MCCA was also selected as a 2018 nonprofit finalist for a MOXIE Award for boldness and innovation
MCCA is the oldest nonprofit licensed child care provider in Montgomery County and started its work in 1968 as a Community Action Project of the War on Poverty. Recognizing the need for quality child care programs in their neighborhoods, a group of local activists formed an association to establish centers in Montgomery County that would serve a diverse population and establish high standards for child care. Now, more than 50 years later, MCCA’s dedicated and expertly trained staff continue their tradition of providing high quality child care and play-based education for children.
Families with school aged children who can afford their child care expenses during the school year often struggle to afford the all-day programs they need when school is out for the summer. The Richard Krampf Summer Adventures Scholarship Fund was established to help provide children a safe and stimulating place to spend their weeks when school is out. Please contact an MCCA Director for details on how to apply.