Play - So Much More Than Meets the Eye

  • Elementary School
Play - So Much More Than Meets the Eye

When SSIS EC students arrive at their classrooms each morning, they head outside. Not to play, but to “get to work.” You see, there is a lot more happening than first meets the eye. 

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood,”  said Mr. Fred Rogers, the beloved American children's television icon. 

Unstructured time and play are critical for developing minds. Through play, children develop many essential skills, such as language skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, collaboration, and more. "Play develops all aspects of the mind and body," says SSIS EC teacher, Tim Dorn.

For budding artists, what can be better than the inspiration of a green and leafy outdoor space?

Collaboration, Empathy and Patience

“We have to get the bad guy,” hollers one little boy as he whips by on his tricycle. “He's there, over there,” responds his friend. “Ok! Let's go!” they agree, as they take off together. During play, children learn how to listen to one another and how to respond. They learn how to share - not just toys but also their ideas and thoughts, learning how to interact with one another.

On a joint mission, two friends ride their tricycles along the riverside path. 

At the other end of the grassy area, a small group of girls is pulling and pushing two classmates in a wagon on one of the paths. “The bus has to go!” one girl informs the other, stomping her foot. “No. We need one more people still. We have to wait,” explains her friend—empathy and patience in action.

Learning to collaborate to achieve goals together is a valuable lifelong skill (Photo: Tim Dorn)

So, next time you happen to be near a group of three and four-year-olds chattering and playing, or a child playing with blocks, listen to their words and observe their play, and recall the words of Albert Einstein, “Play is the highest form of research.” 

Building, testing, re-evaluating and modifying. This is research in action.


Author: Tanya Olander
Communications Officer


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