“Play is vital for development. Play is a biological necessity,” says Carol Reid, a former professor and namesake of the Carol Reid Early Childhood Education Resource Centre.
You’ve probably noticed that preschoolers love to play. Not all play is equal, though, according to Terry Stafford, the director of the Wildwood Educational Enrichment Centre in Fort Langley, BC. Stafford says the more passive activities of watching TV or interacting with electronic games can be seductive and may pull kids away from creative, imaginative play. “That’s why your supply of creative materials needs to be easy to access and equally appealing.”
The word Reid used to describe the toys and activities that promote creativity is “open-ended," adding that these “open-ended toys can be enjoyed by boys and by girls, appeal to a wide age range, and don’t need adult instructions or demonstrations.” According to Reid, children also need enough space to be able to move around freely with a good stretch of unstructured time—suggesting at least 45 minutes—to really get into their creative play.
Want to encourage your preschooler to explore some new creative activities? Stafford suggests setting up areas that can promote different types of play:
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