The Importance of Play

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

By Lynne Mueller, Head of School

Most mornings at arrival time there is a quiet hum in the air as teachers prepare for the day. And then, before you know it, the children arrive. Seeing eager smiling faces excited to come to school has alway brought a smile to my face and reminds me why I have dedicated my life to this profession.

If you are not schooled in the world of early childhood education, it is sometimes a challenge to fully comprehend the importance of play-based learning during these early years. A contributing factor of our society’s devaluation of play is that it is often perceived as a relief from serious learning. As a New York Times article pointed out, play and formal learning are often considered two separate entities, rather than two experiences that go hand-in-hand.

So much has been written to support play’s value. In “Parenting Without Borders,” a book about parenting styles around the world, Christine Gross attributes American children’s academic lag to the fact that in the world’s highest performing schools more time is allotted to play. To me, all this “new” research about the benefits of play is a wonderful affirmation of Vivvi’s learning philosophy which ensures that children are provided with opportunities to nurture the seeds of intelligence through joy and purposeful play.

If skepticism still arises about the importance of play, think about how play also makes us successful as adults. Whether you devise a small solution to complete a work project or start your own company, the exploration of “what if” is oftentimes an adult expression of play, where we remove personal and professional imagined constraints. If you want to explore the social and emotional benefits of play, you can do an experiment. Clear your schedule for an afternoon or evening and then turn off your phone, computer, and other devices. Perhaps plan an activity that you have not done since you were a child. Enjoy the moment and the change of pace. Afterwards, reflect on how you feel. I can almost guarantee you will feel more relaxed and refreshed - and will have thought, processed, or reflected on something creative and new.

In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “we don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” Let’s all defy the aging process and keep our youth alive. All we need to do is take time to play.

#earlychildhood #play