Play is defined as an enjoyable activity of choice and is an instinctive behaviour that children exhibit. All around the world, children love to play, be it indoors or outdoors, with or without toys.
In childcare centres and nursery school in Singapore, lessons are moving away from rote learning to include more play-based learning, and there is ample reason for that.
Why play is beneficial for children attending nursery school in Singapore
To an adult, it may seem like children are purely having fun when playing, but there is more to it than meets the eye. Depending on the type of play children are engaged in, the benefits are more than just for enjoyment.
1. Children attending childcare centres and playgroup in Singapore develop the foundation for literacy through play
Children who play are learning how to read and write. Symbolic play has been positively linked to the usage of meta-linguistic verbs (i.e. verbs that deal with oral and written language ability such as talking, writing, reading or speaking). When they scribble notes and make marks and symbols on pieces of paper or walls, they are practising their grip to prepare for writing.
2. Play helps children express their feelings
Playing is an enjoyable activity for children that they wish to do over and over again. According to Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Play, by playing, children can learn how to express their feelings and dispel negative emotions and replace them with positive ones.
3. Imagination and creativity are honed through play
Be it indoors or outdoors, child-led play allows children to hone their imagination and creativity. A stick can be a magic wand, sword, rake or even a pencil. Nursery school children make up their own games and scenarios, limited only by their imagination.
4. Play develops social, emotional and communication skills
Young children in playgroup in Singapore learn about social, emotional and communication skills when they play games that require turn-taking, sharing and teamwork to achieve a common goal. Playing in a group allows them to learn about gestures and eye contact.
5. Children learn to develop healthy habits
Children who play actively outside learn to develop healthy habits. Playing outside without screens decrease the risk of childhood myopia and it is a form of exercise that is done willingly.
6. Play helps children develop confidence
As children master new abilities and work on existing abilities through play, they gradually become more confident. The sense of achievement can be found in many areas of play, such as successfully completing a puzzle or climbing up a ladder in the playground. The discovery of newfound skills boosts their self-esteem tremendously.
7. Children develop better problem-solving skills
Play has been shown to stimulate brain growth, changing the neurons at the front end of the brain. These changes in the prefrontal cortex help children to make plans and solve problems. It is noted that these changes only come about through unstructured, or free play.
8. Play promotes and maintains strong parent-child bonds
By engaging and focusing on playing with your child (that means no smartphones!), your child will receive your full attention. Oxytocin, a hormone responsible for parent-child bonding and other social interactions, is produced during parent-child play.
9. Play lets them make sense of the world around them
Nursery children enjoy role-playing, mimicking adults around them in different scenarios. By doing so, they demonstrate knowledge of the differences in people – tone of voice, facial expression, accent and behaviour. They may also play pretend with toy appliances or build their own gadget.
10. Play helps to develop mindfulness
As children become engrossed in play, they lose track of time and become fully present on the task at hand. Playing helps children concentrate on activities and develop mindfulness.
Written by Jamie Koh
Knowing all the benefits that play brings to nursery children, it is important to find a school that allocates enough time for children to play freely and explore learning through play.