Monday, February 23, 2015

Open Your Door Let the Children Explore

Think back to your childhood days, most of you can remember long days playing outside. Some of you had few a “toys” to play with while others would improvise with items found around the neighborhood. You would climb trees, build forts, play stick ball, hop scotch and pretend to cook with items found in nature and so much more.

As I looked out my kitchen window the other day I was so excited to see the neighborhood children playing in the field behind my yard. They did not have bikes or balls or other toys. They found all the items they needed for play, a pallet, a few empty paint buckets, a broken shovel, an umbrella stand and sticks and stones. They arranged the items to create a house and played for several hours. It brought back memories of my childhood when I had the freedom to play, to really play, uninterrupted, imaginative play. It made me think how lucky these children were to be able to play without worrying.

Today’s children do not always have the same opportunities for self-directed and initiated play in their neighborhoods as we did when we were growing up because their neighborhoods have become unsafe or are perceived as unsafe.

As early childhood professionals we have a responsibility to provide play for all of the children in our care. Children in their early years of development learn best through play.

What opportunities do you provide that will impact their growth and development and have a lasting impact in their lives that they will carry with them into adulthood?

When planning for play in your program one must consider some basics:

  • Play spaces must offer a variety of materials that stimulate the senses through access to sights, sounds, textures, tastes and smells. 

  • There should be areas where children can socialize and play in small groups, large groups or by themselves.

  •   The play area should be large enough to promote movement and physical activity. 

  • Play spaces should have “loose parts” for children to explore and create with. 

  • Natural and man-made materials for exploration should be available.   

  • Play spaces should offer children a variety of activities that challenge and test the limits of their capabilities.

What are you doing to open your doors to let children explore?

By: Sue Penix Infant and Toddler Specialist and Capacities Building Coordinator for the Baltimore Child Resource Center 

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