The Importance of Play!

Parent/Child Activity Day Parent Training – Oct. 2015

The Crucial Role of Play in Early Childhood

“The Importance of Play” Training Guide

You will need

  • A means to play the video, “The Crucial Role of Play in EC”
  • The two handouts linked above
  • Enough chairs and room for parents to form several small groups

Suggested content notes

Welcome and greet parents as they arrive for training.

Introduce topic

Our children are playing most of the time that they are awake! They do this from the time they are very young infants. Sometimes it is difficult to remember just how important that play time is, and we might even hear people saying, “oh, they’re not busy, they’re just playing.” At Head Start we believe that play is important, and that is really how our children are learning.

Today I have a three and a half minute video for us to watch and then want to talk together about what you think about play.

2015: Some of you may have seen this video last year. It is a good reminder for us because it can take a lot of persistence to create new habits or changes in our routines. I’m hoping that you can share with us any changes or things you tried since you saw this last year. Were you able to get out and play more with your children? What kinds of things did you observe when you did? Have you been able to make play more a part of your daily routines? What new things might you try this year? How has your play time changed compared to last year, now that your child is a year older?

Show video


The video really was showing how play helps children develop their large and small motor skills (examples- jumping, running, building, painting…); develops their thinking and problem-solving skills; their abilities to get along with others; their self-confidence, and a good, healthy self-image. It is really how they learn the skills that will help them be successful in the world. It also showed a little at the end of what happens when children don’t have enough play time and how our society seems to be giving children less time for play. Is there anything else that stood out to you?

Small Group Discussions

In order for everyone to have a chance to share, I’d like to have us break up into small groups of about 5 or 6 people in a group. Once we’re in groups I want to give you a series of 3 questions to talk about, and then we can share some of the key ideas from each group back to our large group.

First question

1) What are some of your favorite memories of your own play as a child, and what skills do you think you were learning?
(After groups have talked for several minutes and everyone has had a chance to talk, ask for a few key thoughts from each group about what kinds of things they were learning in their play as a child. perhaps write these on a flip chart or white board to capture the ideas)

2) Why do you think children and families are having less play time in today’s world compared to what we might have had in the past?
(Follow same procedure as after #1, focusing on key ideas about why play time has decreased.)

3) What might be some solutions or ideas to give your child and your family more opportunities for play? Why is it important for families to play together?
(Follow same procedure as above, highlighting key responses.)

Briefly summarize the three sets of responses and what group shared.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and ideas!! It’s great to hear everyone’s ideas about this topic. Hopefully we can all get out to play more!

Today, in your child’s classroom, you will be working with your child on creating a special cover or picture for your Family Portfolio. This is meant to be a tool for you to not only keep important documents related to your child’s growth and your goals as a family, but also to share some stories and pictures of how your child is learning through play, and of the special times you have when you play together.

Every time you meet with your child’s teacher she will give you more examples of your child’s learning that you can save in the Portfolio and look back on at the end of the year. You can also add things, like photographs or stories that tell about what your child is doing during this year of growing. At the end of the year, we hope that you have a really special collection that you can look back on and share with your child and family.