Just Playing? The Importance of Play and building strong Foundations

What do they do all day? When will they begin to learn? Why are they always at the playdough table? How will they cope at school? Who will they be when they grow up?

What did you do today? “Oh nothing I just played”. Following is a poem that nicely explains just what young children are doing every day when they are at Preschool. It also sums up why play is so important and just how much learning is going on for a young child.

When I am building in the block room, please don’t say I’m “just playing”. For you see, I’m learning as I play, about balance and shapes. Who knows, I may be an architect someday.

When I’m getting all dressed up, setting the table, caring for the babies, don’t get the idea I’m “just playing”. For, you see, I’m learning as I play; I may be a mother or a father someday.

When you see me up to my elbows in paint or standing at an easel, or molding and shaping clay, please don’t let me hear you say, “He is just playing”. For, you see, I’m learning as I play. I’m expressing myself and being creative. I may be an artist or an inventor someday.

When you see me sitting in a chair “reading” to an imaginary audience, please don’t laugh and think I’m “just playing”. For, you see, I’m learning as I play. I may be a teacher someday.

When you see me combing the bushes for bugs, or packing my pockets with choice things I find, don’t pass it off as “just play”. For you see, I’m learning as I play. I may be a scientist someday.

When you see me engrossed in a puzzle or some “plaything” atmy school, please don’t feel the time is wasted in “play”. For, you see, I’m learning as I play. I’m learning to solve problems and concentrate. I may be in business someday.

When you see me cooking or tasting foods, please don’t think that because I enjoy it, it is “just play”. I’m learning to follow direction and see differences. I may be a cook someday.

When you see me learning to skip, hop, run and move my body, please don’t say I’m “just playing”. For, you see, I’m learning as I play. I’m learning how my body works. I may be a doctor, nurse or athlete someday.

When you ask me what I’ve done at school today, and I say, “I just played”, please don’t misunderstand me. For you see, I’m learning as I play. I’m learning to enjoy and be successful in my work. I’m preparing for tomorrow. Today, I am a child and my work is play.

~Anita Wadley

What your child probably engaged in during their day
• worked with a friend or in a group
• problem solved
• created a masterpiece
• negotiated their ideas with others
• learned a new skill
• had a great time
• developed new language skills and increased their vocabulary

Your Child probably didn’t…….
• feel lonely or left out become bored
• do repetitive tasks that hold no interest
• do worksheets that are meaningless without knowledge or physical skills to match
• do sit down work that is discouraging when you just need to move about

Young children really learn when they are actively involved in play…..not when someone is talking to them. Our belief that children must be filled up with knowledge before they head off to school fails to take into account all the wonderful learning of life skills and information that is important for children to succeed at learning well.

A confident, capable, articulate learner will want to participate, be capable of solving problems and will know how to research or question to get answers. They will have developed their bodies by climbing, running, hopping, walking, stepping and grasping at play equipment. This will mean that they are able to use their bodies to sit at a table, hold a pencil, follow an instruction, go from one area to another without stumbling or tripping and be capable and willing to work in a group or team. Information in isolation does not develop enquiry, innovation, motivation or skills for life.

By giving children the opportunity to develop strong foundational skills, (that will develop over different time frames for each individual child), we are building strong and sturdy learners with a life-long love for learning.

This all begins from when young children are infants. Have you ever been tempted to prop up your baby to help them sit, play with and manipulate their environment? Here are some interesting links as to why this is not recommended……


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