Today, we’re taking a look back at this previous August, when the New York Times published an article about the power of play. The main takeaway? Doctors should “prescribe” playtime for children.
We’re not kidding.
The source? The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement titled “The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children.” The statement makes the point that pediatricians should seriously look at promoting “simple play” with new parents.
It’s meant mostly in jest, but the article does go on to talk about why play is so important in Early Childhood Development. Play is how children start to learn about how the world around them works; they learn about cause, and effect; they learn the beginnings of social cues and interactions.
Furthermore, in an economy that is rapidly changing, focusing on play might actually prepare your child better for later life. Dr. Michael Yogman believes that “Kids develop 21st-century skills in play, skills that are crucial for adults in the new economy, that help them collaborate and innovate.”
Learning how to work together, compromising and developing rules – playing classic games like on the playground are the first opportunities children have to learn how society works.
“It’s not about fancy toys,” Dr. Yogman says in the article. “It’s about common household items that kids can discover and explore.”
The entire article is a great read, but the point that immediately our eye was the idea of “Scaffolding.” As Dr. Bernard Dreyer – the director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine – puts it, scaffolding is when “you don’t control the play for your child, but when you see they’re ready to go to the next step, support that.”
Dr. Dreyer’s example is giving your child a hint on how to complete a puzzle, but we immediately spotted similarities to our own Emergent Curriculum approach to childcare, where Early Childhood Educators first observe what the children are naturally interested in before designing activities around those interests.
And as for the “Prescription for Play?” That’s one prescription we would look forward to filling.