Learning centers provide many opportunities for integrated learning. While playing in an imaginary grocery store, children learn math through the use of numbers and prices, literacy by recognize familiar labels on foods and develop social skills through role play as the shopper, cashier or manager and develop their physical skills by learning how to arrange cans and groceries in make-up shelves.
Play has been the focus of many research studies in early childhood as playing provides a wonderful and creative way for them to interact. The other benefits when play is included in their curriculum are:
1. Play provides children with opportunities for social development as they learn to share materials, develop plans, negotiate differences and solve problems.
2. Play helps to build motor skills as they use eye-hand coordination and engage in activities such as running, skipping and jumping.
3. Play helps children’s emotional development as they play out their fears, learn to control their anxieties and cope with disappointments, resolve conflicts and gain a sense of competence.
4. Play helps the children o express their ideas, thoughts and feelings thus developing their creativity and imagination.
5. Play provides children opportunities to understand the world.
6. Play develops their language, motor skills and social, emotional and intellectual skills.
Lieberman (1966) identified playfulness as humorous, emotionally expressive, novelty-seeking, curious, open and communicative. She developed preschool worksheets of questionnaires to help teachers to identify playfulness in children and is divided into five sections.
1. Physical spontaneity
Questionnaires will track how often the child participates in physical movement during play and are her movements well-coordinated.
2. Social Spontaneity
Observing the child flexibility in their interactions and cooperation while playing in the group.
3. Cognitive spontaneity
Observing whether the child uses their imagination and are spontaneous during dramatic play.
4. Sense of humor
Observing whether the child displays a sense of humor and enjoys joking or clowning around.
5. Manifest joy
Observing the child’s responsive behavior during play activities.
The preschool worksheets provide a way to assess play and the children who participate. It helps the teachers to appreciate play and the benefits play can provide for developing these skills.