The idiom “child’s play” suggests a simplicity and frivolity that does not do justice to the important work that takes place when children play. Decades of early childhood research show that play is essential for healthy child development; building fine motor skills, developing spatial awareness, understanding symbols and abstract concepts. Neuroscience confirms that when young children play they are actually creating new connections in the brain. Play is how children learn about the world. It is the foundation for social and emotional skills. Play teaches communication and self-control. It fosters creativity, imagination, problem solving, courage and self-confidence.

There is a popular quote from Fred Rogers that underscores this point, “Play is often talked about as if it is a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

For children, learning is a physical activity using all of the senses. Screens and apps cannot provide the same experiences for children as interacting, exploring, experimenting, constructing and creating one’s own open-ended play.

Our new Preschool Playdate pairs literacy components with play opportunities. The sensory activities following storytime are designed to extend the ideas and themes of the books to promote self-directed play and hands-on discovery. Come PLAY with us! Fridays from 10:30-11:30 a.m., January 11 through March 15.

— Janet, Children’s Librarian