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A Word From Our Experts: The Importance of Play by Dr. Nancy Holodak

A Word From Our Experts: The Importance of Play by Dr. Nancy Holodak

RCDS is thrilled to present "A Word From Our Experts", a monthly blog-like piece authored by our expert team of faculty and staff. See here for a word from RCDS's Director of Curriculum and Head of Lower School Dr. Nancy Holodak who shares insights about the importance of play and gives you a peek into the fun and learning that is taking place on our new play spaces. 

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play IS serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”  – Fred Rogers

Last week I spent time outside watching our Lower School children joyfully exploring, experimenting and deeply engaged in play on our rejuvenated playground.  There was no need for direction or teaching about how to play from teachers, for even our youngest Gators, at just three years old, relished the freedom to interact with and explore their surroundings.  Instinctually, they knew to spin, and climb and jump and bounce. One special moment that captured the import of play happened when two Beginners approached our new spinny seats. A little cautious at first, one friend finally pushed through fear, hopped on...and sat there. Nothing happened, the seat did not spin!  A moment later, the second child leaned in, and asked, “do you want me to do it?” Problem solved! Two friends, taking turns, helping each other. Taking risks to understand how the world & things in it work, cooperating and collaborating with friends to achieve success, taking turns and taking care of each other; these are the cornerstones of healthy social-emotional development.  

While playing can look a lot like simple fun, it is actually a complex set of skills that children work hard to master as they learn and grow.  Their earliest experiences with play pay huge dividends as they approach their teenage years. In addition to developing strong gross & locomotor skills, they develop social-emotional and executive functioning skills as well.  Making choices, listening to others, compromising, dealing with frustration, managing emotions, relieving stress; none of these are easy skills, but through play, children find success and grow in leaps and bounds, and they have an awful lot of fun in the process.  

At RCDS we are devoted to giving our Gators the time and space they need to play, and with the creation of new and updated spaces for play, we know the benefits will extend far beyond the outdoors, and into classrooms where refreshed minds focus longer and learning benefits.  The good news is, grown-ups benefit from play too; so head outside with your children today, and just go play!

  • A Word from Our Experts