Childhood educators understand that play is a critical component for healthy child development during the early stages.

Childhood educators understand that play is a critical component for healthy child development during the early stages. Through play, children can explore their environment, solve problems, try their curiosity, and express themselves. According to Elkind (2003), play is a critical component that servers to make children learn and understand their ever-changing world. Both teachers and families have diverse perspectives in viewing the role of play. While parents ask whether their children played, teachers suggest that play is the child's initiative. The existing differences of perspective and purpose pose a dilemma in understanding the role of childhood educators in providing planned and supervised play activities. In this article, we shall explain the role of childhood teachers in supporting play in child development. 

       According to Gisburg (2007), unstructured play is essential for child development from infancy to the end of early childhood development. Unlike the unstructured play, child-directed play involves an adult engagement who controls children as they execute activities in space. As teachers plan practical play activities, children are intrinsically motivated to engage with materials free from eternal limits actively. During their exploration, children portray positivity towards play and attentiveness as they carry out various activities. Children become more creative and symbolic as they use available materials to bring about contemporary life experiences. For example, they use small blocks as a telephone and a board with pegs as birthday cakes. Thus, the teacher's presence maximizes the benefits of play by directing children towards appropriate development practices.

     Teachers have critical roles of solving problems, questioning, reflecting on undesired behaviors, and introducing children to play themes. Children with difficulty engaging in play get assisted by the teacher. During play, teachers enforce curriculum content by enticing children into the play themes, providing necessary materials, and helping children expand their concepts. Better learning experiences are enhanced as teachers assist children to plan for roles, motivate them to ask open-ended questions, talk to their peers, and have an active engagement. McAfee and Leong (2010), state that teachers' presence and interactions intensify the complexity, time and frequency of childhood activities with increased language and cognitive capacities. During the play, the teacher facilitates social interactions as well as engaging children in space. The teacher identifies and effectively plan for specific knowledge and skills necessary for children development.

    While developing play activities, teachers can establish the desired goals and objectives to be achieved in play activities. According to Bandura (1993), he suggests that there is a need to consider cognitive capabilities, physical, social and emotional levels, and linguistic development. For instance, as the teacher aims to increase the child's language level in expressing, they can invite the child into dramatizing play with those who engage easily in verbal sports. The teacher can also assist the child to develop both languages and thinking by providing scaffolding support through questioning. By asking children what they can do during their holiday, it allows them to formulate an answer comprehensively.

  While enforcing curriculum into play, teachers need to plan for areas where children have prior knowledge and experiences. Children are limited to expressing their roles in play scenarios they had not experienced before. For example, a bank prop box composed of a well-arranged telephone, keyboard, calculator, paper clips, staple machine and telephone brought to class on Thursday was unused. On realizing limited real-life experiences among the children, the teacher changed the prop box into a hotel. The children showed significant involvement by attending to assuming roles as chefs, waitresses, cashiers and customers. Children can express normal functions such as family, school, firefighters and shopkeeping. Thus, teachers need to minimize confusion by planning play activities that maximize children's understanding according to their level.

     . While many teachers understand the significance of play in childhood learning, they still fail to plan for play experiences for their learners. Contemporary education underestimates the impact of play in learning, depriving children of critical and social skills to be flexible and logical when addressing complex contexts. Today, technology has dramatically replaced the role of the play. Many children spend about two hours a day on screens that do not offer real-world experiences. Most homes have realistic toys and props that limit children from imagining and creating objects using play materials. Thus teachers need to embrace valuable learning tools to maximize creativity and engagement in learning.

     In conclusion, early childhood educators have critical roles that influence childhood development. Teachers should intentionally plan for appropriate stage, culture and individual play experiences for the development of each child in the classroom. Play is significant in childhood development as it influences social and emotional interactions as they take newly assumed roles of their peers. Play allows teachers to assess children's opportunities to solve problems and share functions. The teacher as a facilitator, need to promote involvement by assisting students to plan, and encourage them to participate actively through asking questions and talking with their peers. Teachers can effectively promote learning beyond the classroom level by reinforcing learning activities along with play experiences. Thus the play activities should relate to the previous experiences so that children can attend to the assumed roles. 
















David Elkind David Elkind, & Elkind, D. E. (2003). Can We Play? Retrieved November 18, 2021, from

Puaad, N. I., & Yunus, F. (2021, January 12). Monitoring Children Cognitive Development Activities AEPS®: 3 - 6 Embedded in the Teaching and Learning Early Science with Inquiry. Retrieved November 18, 2021, from

Oralie McAfee Deborah J. Leong. (2010). Assessing and Guiding Young Children's Development and Learning. Retrieved November 18, 2021, from

Bandura, A. (1993). APA PsycNet. Retrieved November 18, 2021, from