By Dora Jacildo
According to a report by the Journal of American Pediatrics, “Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.” But what happens when a child’s environment is chaotic, stressful, and impoverished? What happens when the opportunity for safe, unstructured, child-driven play is not available?
Those of us working closely with young children understand that play is how a child learns best. Play is a child’s work. It is the most effective way to express emotions, negotiate relationships, resolve conflicts, and learn to work in a group. Play involves every aspect of development - physical, cognitive, social and emotional. It inspires creativity and imagination and decreases anxiety and stress. Children who are denied time to play are denied the opportunity to meet their full learning potential.
Children at Work
At Children Today, play is the foundation of our curriculum. Our teachers are well versed in the importance of play and design environments to inspire children to get involved with the materials and with each other. Great emphasis is placed on and plenty of time is given to gross motor development and outdoor play as it directly impacts the child’s ability to relieve stress. Running, bike riding, bouncing balls, climbing, and dancing are essential experiences for children who may not have these opportunities outside of their time with us.
For children coping with the traumatic stress of homelessness, play cannot be an optional activity. It must be part of their educational and care plan if they are to grow up healthy.
Various members of the Children Today staff contribute to these blog posts.