Why does play matter?

by Deborah Stewart, M.Ed.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had in my own career as an early childhood teacher is how to explain why play matters.

It’s hard to explain why I get so excited when a child spends the morning building a tall tower out of blocks.

It’s even harder to explain why painting with every color of paint on the easel (until it turns into one big brown blob) has so much value.

It’s almost impossible to explain how learning every number, letter, shape, or color is more meaningful and longer-lasting in the learning process when discovered through hands-on play and exploration.

It’s almost impossible to explain how learning every number, letter, shape, or color is more meaningful and longer-lasting in the learning process...

And some folks think I’m brave or just plain crazy for doing any kind of play that leads to a big mess.

Play is so simple to do and so complex to explain. People write entire books on play and yet we still have to convince the world that play deeply matters when it comes to early learning.

Do you ever find yourself struggling to explain how amazing play is? Do you have this tug of war going on inside you between knowing that your students need time for play but feeling pressured to give them less? I know that I do but here’s the thing...

I ran into a young man who I had cared for as a young child. You know what he said to me? He said that he remembers how we poured water into different sizes of clear glasses and that he was amazed at how the smaller looking glass held all the water but the bigger glass didn’t.

You know what his body language said as we stood and chatted? It said, “I remember that you liked me and that I liked you, that we had fun, that there was trust, and that being a teacher brought value to my life.”

Because you believe, deep down inside, that play matters and give your students time for play, you are making a difference that won’t stop at the end of the school year. 

If you are struggling to explain why play matters, just know this. Because you believe, deep down inside, that play matters and give your students time for play, you are making a difference that won’t stop at the end of the school year. You are making a difference that won’t be forgotten over summer break. You are making a difference in the lives of your students that will last a lifetime.

Whether you can explain all the scientific research on the value of play when it comes to growth, development and early learning or not - you are still making the right choice when you let your students play.

"But Deborah, it doesn’t matter if I’m making the right choice if I lack the ability to help my parents or colleagues understand how children learn through play."

I get it, but you will get better at speaking to the value of play as you continue to facilitate and observe play. Advocate for what you believe in by putting it into practice.

Be patient. Be diligent. You’ve got this.

The Solution Within You!

I'm presenting an informative  and FREE presentation on finding the solutions within you. This is a 3-part series where I will break down some common problems in the classroom and show you how to find the solutions that create engagement and confidence in your children. Click the button below to visit the presentation page.

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed.

Deborah Stewart, M.Ed.

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed.

Deborah Stewart, M.Ed.

The Solution Within You!

I'm presenting an informative  and FREE presentation on finding the solutions within you. This is a 3-part series where I will break down some common problems in the classroom and show you how to find the solutions that create engagement and confidence in your children. Click the button below to visit the presentation page.