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Play is something every human understands, but a term that is hard to define. Play is a quality of intensity and joy in an activity. Play transforms the everyday into the extraordinary. Play enhances and heightens an experience, setting it into the mind and making it a part of us. This is the quality that makes play most fascinating. Play is a form of learning for children as well as adults that is built in to the structure of our DNA. At Small Faces we believe that play is the most important way children interact with their environment and create knowledge.
The staff of Small Faces is charged with facilitating, participating in, observing, documenting and reflecting on play. The presence of trained staff gives play an explicit purpose whose goal is to encourage the Social-Emotional, Physical, Creative and Cognitive development of the children in our care. As a facilitator and participant in play, staff at Small Faces design rich environments and engage in activities with children, guiding and encouraging play without controlling it. The staff of Small Faces observes, documents and reflects upon children at play to better plan and design future elements of curriculum for both individuals and groups.
Part of each day at Small Faces is dedicated to unstructured play. While the importance of structured play is easily recognized, we believe that unstructured play is essential to the development of young children. A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, “The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent- Child Bonds” (Ginsburg, 2006) states: “free and unstructured play is healthy and – in fact – essential for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones as well as helping them manage stress and become resilient.”
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