My name is Chris Pancoast and I have worked with children in different public and private educational programs and environments for the past 19 years. I am now working in the school district I grew up in. I work with a student who has special needs. I graduated with my BA and Masters Degrees in Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood Development.
For my thesis or “culminating” project, I was really inspired (and stall am) to share my research and education pertaining to the concept of play. That brought me to writing a book entitled, “Why Play? The Role of Play in Early Childhood Development”. As of 2017, I have organized a workshop based on Play. My goal is to connect with surrounding communities, parents, educators and anyone who has worked with children and share ideas with each other.
As you venture into my research on “Play”, I invite you to relax and reflect on how you played in your childhood. Feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and stories.
There is more to play than meets the eye. Play forms the foundation for life-long growth and development. It is by children having the time and opportunity to play that they gain verbal and social skills, fine and gross motor development, and building relationships/friendships. There are many different types of play. Did you know that humans are not the only living things that play? Animals play often. The way they move without showing their teeth and aggression is a sign of play. There are research studies on this as well.
Children should be allowed opportunities to play for a minimum of 60 minutes every day. While the play should ideally be unstructured (note, I am not saying unsupervised) allowing the child to use his or her imagination and creativity. This play can consist of free playing, playing with others, attending a story time or family play date group, going on an outing etc. For adolescents, the play may be more individualized, doing something the child likes to do such as listening to music. I personally do not count watching TV freely or spending time on electronic devices as Play. Play occurs when a child is physically active and enjoying the activity. Older children may count their play as more structured such as playing sports.
“PLAY creates a foundation for life-long growth and development. It is through play that children gain skills including relationship building and verbal skills.”
“Everyone needs to PLAY… Children, adolescents and adults. Play comes in many forms. It could be as simple as doing an activity that makes you happy and positive.”
“Children already grow up fast, we don’t need to push them to grow up faster.”
“Children learn best by doing and not solely reading from a text book. It is a combination of both that assist in a child’s growth and development.”
The idea for this book came from reflecting back on my 36 years of life, the family I have, the friendships I have had and all of my experiences working in my educational career and helping others. Through these experiences I have recognized that there are no two people who learn alike.
In this book, I describe what “play” really means, the importance of promoting play, the types of play, play theorists and psychologists (including Partens, Freud, Vygotsk, Piaget) learning styles, how play helps children who have special needs, and outdoor play amongst many more fascinating topics. My book is a valuable resource for parents, educators and anyone who is interested in the topic. It includes parent objectives and pages where the reader can jot down thoughts, ideas or what the next family activity may be.
Recently there has been a lot of focus on teaching the next generation everything they need to know. What is possibly detrimental is the approach that some educational systems take pushing children to learn at a very fast pace when they are not developmentally ready.