The Importance of Play

The importance of play for children before the age of 7 should not be underestimated. Outdoor, unstructured play is particularly important for children to develop the social-emotional tools they need to navigate life successfully.

In a blog post by pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom, she recounts an interview she conducted with a highly experienced preschool teacher:

A few years ago, I interviewed a highly respected director of a progressive preschool. She had been teaching preschoolers for about 40 years and had seen major changes in the social and physical development of children in the past few generations.

“Kids are just different,” she started to say. When I asked her to clarify, she said, “They are more easily frustrated – often crying at the drop of a hat.” She had also observed that children were frequently falling out of their seats “at least three times a day,” less attentive, and running into each other and even the walls. “It is so strange. You never saw these issues in the past.”

Clumsiness, an inability to sit still, poor problem-solving, and poor emotional regulation could be avoided in many children if they were given the ample time they need to play and use their senses to explore the natural world. The three ‘R’s will happen in good time. There is no need to rush it. But giving children the space and time to play should not be neglected.