Play may just seem like fun and games to your child, but it is, in fact, an essential practice for healthy brain development. Play allows for children to explore, make social connections and begin to develop logical thinking processes. At Child’s Play ELC, we value the concept of open play and we are guided by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, which allows for your child to explore and be curious about different environments and activities. There are many benefits to adopting open play for early childhood education such as it is community focussed and helps with physical, social and brain development for all children. 

Why Open Play?

Allows children to prioritise fun and creativity

Play is supposed to be enjoyable and exciting to children and childcare shouldn’t feel too scary or challenging to your child. Open play removes the likelihood of your child finding childcare to be scary because it prioritises creativity and having fun. This stimulates your children’s imagination, helps them with their communication skills and gives them a space to express ideas. It also helps them enjoy what they are doing without necessarily recognising that they are learning important skills needed for life. By utilising open play at Child’s Play ELC we have found that children are engaged with our programs and become active learners within their community.

Allows children to make decisions confidently and navigate these decisions with logical reasoning.

With space to express their ideas, open play also encourages risk-taking, decision making and logical thinking. All of this is key to a child’s brain development and social development. By giving them the opportunity to take risks and make decisions about their learning at a young age, we are setting them up to understand the benefits and consequences of their actions these skills will be needed later in their lives; when making decision making. Open play, facilitates these decisions and helps your child make justified choices about how they may want to complete an activity. This is important and builds confidence, children engage in risky play in a safe environment like childcare, this in turn will help your child to be more socially adept when it comes to transitioning to school. 

Builds communication and language skills

Communication is an important skill to develop at a young age. Open play encourages further language development and sometimes can help your child learn a new language. This is completed through facilitating activities and encouraging collaboration and sharing e.g. show and share times. By encouraging these processes children begin to learn how to ask questions, how to introduce themselves and how to communicate with others. All of which stimulate brain development and help your child be more socially active and confident within their community of learners. Consequently, encouraging these behaviours also opens up opportunities for your child to learn about other cultures within Australia and potentially learn key phrases of a different language from another child. This is because children are naturally curious creatures and have both a fear of missing out and an interest in learning new things such as languages.

Helps children engage fully and show what they are interested in

The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood learning is one of the most effective approaches because not only is it structured around open play but encourages time for unstructured play where children can explore, take risks and develop communication skills. Child’s Play educators and parents see what their children are interested in or what they are curious about and facilitate learning around their interests. Activities are planned based on children’s interests  your child can be fully engaged and in charge of their own learning. By being fully engaged in activities your child is actually promoting brain stimulation and allowing for new connections to be formed in a variety of ways including in motor skills, logical thinking and creativity. All of these skills can help promote your child to being a lifelong learner and engaged member of the community. 

Enhances social and emotional intelligence

Finally, open play is important to a child’s brain health because it increases their social and emotional intelligence. Through open play children experience unstructured and unforeseen situations such as getting a scrape, making new friends, or gardening. These situations have an important impact on your child’s cognitive development as they will often watch, assess and eventually act in positively and gain knowledge and understanding that can be applied to new situations. Making friends in childcare is particularly beneficial for your child because they learn how to care for people outside of their family, value another person’s opinion, and develop listening skills that can help them make rational decisions. Social and emotional intelligence are important to a person’s development because it means that they develop empathetic values and are able to imagine situations based upon prior experiences. Overall, it helps your child be more open, thoughtful and kind to others in every situation.

Why Childs Play?

Child’s Play Early Learning Centres have harnessed and incorporated open play to be an essential part of our curriculum. We believe that it helps children build confidence, social skills and emotional intelligence, while also encouraging creativity and risk-taking behaviours under the guise of having fun. If you would like to find out more about our curriculum, get in touch with one of our educators.