Development & Health

Preschool play: Is it mostly entertainment or learning?

Thinking of the word “child” the first thing that is automatically associated with this thought, is the play. Child and play. Two words inseparable. Young children love to play more, since they are more carefree and therefore free to play. After all, the play brings all the joy and carefreeness of the first years of life. But is that all? Or is it something much more than that? Specifically, preschool play.

The play starts in infancy and goes through various stages of development, as the child grows older. The solitary play of infants, later becomes an observing play. Gradually, it evolves into a parallel. Then into a correlative to end up in the cooperative play. Marking the stage where the toddler has acquired cooperation and interaction skills. In a similar way, the types of play reveal to us its direct correlation with the development of the child.

The exploratory play (0 – 2.5 years old), gives its place to the constructive play (2.5 years old and over). While from 3 years onwards, the dramatic/fantasy play and the symbolic play appear. Through the early interaction of the infant with his mother, the foundations are laid for social play. Later in infancy, it develops into an organized play with rules. The development of the play continues. Throughout the childhood.

When a child plays he/she learns to:

  • Express and communicate his/her interests, needs, feelings, preferences.
  • Develop social skills, to collaborate and coexist with others.
  • Discover the social roles and perceive the world around him/her.
  • Experiment, try and persevere.
  • Gain self-control, learn the limits of his/her body and develop motor skills.
  • Cultivate language skills and enrich his/her oral speech.
  • Gradually, understand the basic mathematical concepts and laws of physics.
  • Cultivate his/her imagination and logical thinking.
  • Discover the joy of participation. He/she has fun and is entertained.

Learning through the play, arises through the spontaneous, experiential experience of the child. Thus, for this very reason, it’s pure and essential.

It’s impossible, to imagine Preschool Education without the play, as its central part. As it’s impossible to deprive children of play, as a means of joy and entertainment. Preschool play, comprises both. Entertainment and learning. But it’s also something more. The play means the world to children.


Elena Alexia-Preschool Teacher 

Athens, Greece

Facebook: @Elena Alexia


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