This article is part of our Member Blog Series, which showcases Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative Members' efforts and commitment to ensure that play is a critical element in the lives of people of all ages. Each month, a different member organization will share their take on how play is a part of the work they do. The Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative hopes that these stories of play from our diverse set of member organizations will encourage and inspire leaders in communities, businesses, schools, and families to prioritize play every day.
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is the really the work of childhood.” --Fred Rogers
As we adults go about our busy modern lives, we often forget why young children need to play. It's easy to overlook that long before parents send their child to meet their first preschool or kindergarten teacher, children are learning with their families.
Play is an essential way that parents are their child's first and most important teachers. Every interaction a child has in the early years helps to form synapses, or connections, in the brain, building the physical infrastructure for future learning.
Adults can talk, sing, read, write and play with children beginning at birth. Research has shown these five simple activities help children learn and build a foundation for all future learning too. Children need play to develop the skills that will prepare them for formal educational experiences in school.
Research also tells us that playing with children allows kids to develop the benefits of play at a faster rate than if they had played without an adult. The benefits of play are extensive, and the ways to play are endless! Problem-solving skills, critical thinking, social skills, self-confidence, fine and gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, spatial reasoning, language, and vocabulary are all developed, supported and enhanced through play.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh strives to help parents and caregivers make the most of their child’s early learning moments by offering dedicated playtimes called Family PlayShop. Family PlayShop is a 4-5 week series of playtimes that happen at 13 Carnegie Library locations in the spring and fall. Children and caregivers are invited to explore a room full of toys and early learning activities carefully selected to provide valuable learning experiences for young children birth to age five. Adults are encouraged to follow their child's lead and engage with whatever toys and activities the child chooses.
Family PlayShop’s supportive environment is also a great place for caregivers to ask questions and get answers. While caregivers and children play, each week they have the chance to chat with a child development expert like a librarian, doctor, speech therapist or dentist, about potty training, milestones, health and more. Librarians share information about early literacy and the five simple activities–talking, reading, writing, singing and playing–that prepare a young child for later school success.
Family PlayShop programs happen at 13 Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh locations. For more information about upcoming spring programs, visit the Library's event page.
Join us for one session or come to them all! Registration isn’t required, and programs are free. You may just make a friend or two, leave with information about how to further support your child’s growth and development, and (re)discover the joy of play and learning.