How structured play readies children for life

Published Monday, July 2, 2012

Fall, well August or even July in Arizona, begins a new year of learning for children. But how early is too early to begin introducing your child to school? Many experts agree that around 2 years-old, children begin benefitting greatly from structured play with other children, guided by an Early Childhood-educated adult. Here are five necessary life skills very young children gain from structured play:

  1. Problem-Solving Skills: Children try different activities and work as a team. These abilities are necessary to swing on the new monkey bars and write their college essays.
  2. Thinking and Reasoning Skills: Children learn to trust their instincts, use materials in creative ways, and be independent. With these strengths, they can run for class president and move out on their own.
  3. Language Skills: Children learn to vocalize their needs and see their successes when they get what they want. Learning to cooperate and to negotiate in their community advances their language skills giving power where it's needed and keeping children from being bullied.
  4. Reading and Writing Skills: Walk into a NAEYC-accredited program, and you will see a print-rich environment. The first word that most children learn to recognize and read is their first name. Childrens' names are used to develop letter-sound recognition, letter identity, patterns, left-to-right progression, and one-to-one correspondence.
  5. Social and Emotional Skills: Through dramatic play, children explore feelings and adult roles and develop their identities. They develop their own positive self-esteem.

Structured play in a classroom allows children to cultivate these skills. Consider an early childhood learning program for your young child to give them a head start.


Pam Morris holds a masterís degree in Early Childhood Education from Binghamton University and has taught preschool for more than 15 years. Her children attended the Early Childhood Learning Center, a NAEYC-accredited preschool, now enrolling at the East Valley JCC.