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What is play?

According to the RCPEIM's 2013 Lexique en petite enfance, play is a physical, mental or social activity based on continually renewed pleasure. Initiated by children, play allows them to discover their own abilities and limits freely, voluntarily and spontaneously.

Play is therefore free of imposed rules and characterized by the players' active engagement.

Children learn while playing. For instance, they learn to communicate, negotiate rules, make decisions, share, etc. The learnings are not related to content, but rather to general skills.

Play is essential to children's global development. All of their senses are called on during play, and several areas of development are stimulated at once, such as their motor, physical, language, cognitive, emotional and social skills.

Does play still have its place today? In the current social and family context, which focuses on performance and success, the right to play is losing ground.

Play initiated by children is seemingly gradually being replaced with structured activities targeting specific learnings. This should be avoided... and it is up to us, the grown-ups, to offer children rich environments and time to experience a variety of play.

Sources and useful links

  • FERLAND, Francine. Et si on jouait? Le jeu durant l’enfance et pour toute la vie. Montréal, Éditions de l’Hôpital Sainte-Justine (Mother and child university hospital centre), 2005, 203 pages.
  • HEWES, Jane. Let the children play: Nature's answer to early learning. Canadian Council on Leaning.
  • PERRIOT, Karine, LEMIEUX, Marie-France, and GAMACHE, Jocelyne. Lexique en petite enfance. 2nd edition. Regroupement des centres de la petite enfance de l’Île-de-Montréal, 2013.

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Last modified date :
December 16, 2016