| December 3, 2013

I thoroughly enjoyed the 92y conference. After hearing the stories from speakers and attending the workshop, I understand that play is much deeper than questions and materials. While I did know how much play affects the development of children, I didn’t realize the lasting effects it’s could have on a child’s imagination and future exploration. One speaker added how play is innate in all of us and how play is the one time our inhibitions are down and our minute issues are all “downplayed”. Play in general should be a learning experience but also a time for reflection, growth and creativity. Children learn about themselves through play and the world around them with the materials we provide. As teachers it is important that we make materials accessible but also create an atmosphere for play without materials and letting children’s imagination and language flourish.

Through my workshops I realized also just how important it is to comment children’s work as opposed to just asking questions. While we may see one thing during play a child may envision something else and by acknowledging what may be physically obvious, questioning may give you a one word answer while commenting may open the child’s mind and allow you in. The benefit to play is that there is no right or wrong. There are so many discoveries to be made through play for both child and teacher. Play is the manifestation of children’s thoughts and experiences. As children engage in play whether it’s free play or suggested play, we as teachers can guide children through these experiences. Teachers can use play as a guide through children’s outside experiences – both negative and positive and create a carefree world where playing can come naturally. Whatever happens during play does not have to seem forced or intentional. Through play teachers can also interpret the needs and strengths of a child as well.

Play is much different for children than it is for adults – especially in relation to context. Children’s play is a time for learning and new experiences. Play for adults is a leisure activity and a time to relax. We must remember as teachers that play involves all of the developmental domains for children and with our encouragement and scaffolding, play for children can not only be a learning experience but FUN!

Ayanna Haskell