817 Kingston Road, Pickering, ON L1V1A9 | 905-839-1842


Importance of Play

“You are worried about seeing him spend his early years in doing nothing. What! Is it nothing to be happy? Nothing to skip, play, and run around all day long? Never in his life will he be so busy again.” ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, 1762 Play has always fascinated me. Children learn so much in the process and we as adults can facilitate or hinder their learning simply by not understanding what is going on. Granted, there are many types of learning environments and not all children “play” the same. But I do enjoy to see the learning process take place. I am glad to be apart of it. Here is some information about play I have found useful. The Many Types of Play Sensorimotor Play
This type of play is seen most often in stages of infancy. Usually, when one is exploring the environment as well as discovering how their body works in relation to it. It involves the different senses; for example, auditory, tactile, sensory, and visual experiences. Practice Play This particular type of play involves the repetition of new skills as they are being learned. One could think of it as practicing for mastery and it is continued throughout our lives. About one-third of a preschooler’s play is practice play, compared to about one-sixth of an elementary school child’s play. Such play contributes to the development of small and large motor skills needed for later game playing or competitive sports. Some early childhood activities include painting, running, swinging, coloring, and mastering daily routines such as clean up time. Symbolic Play
This is also called dramatic play, fantasy play or make-believe. A child will transform an object into other objects and act toward them accordingly. For instance, Jenna wrapped a bear in a blanket and said it was a crying baby. Symbolic play is at its peak at about 4 or 5 years of age. This type of play obviously helps to develop any preschooler’s imagination and creativity as well as helps a child develop needed social skills. Social Play Social play revolves around social interaction with peers. Basically, if it involves other children, it’s social play. Various games can be attributed to social play, games like Hide-and-seek or “Catch”. This type of play will help your child learn how to interact with others and develop friendships. Constructive Play This play occurs when a child uses their imagination and skills to create a product. A child can put on a performance, learn problem-solving skills, or build structures. For example, artwork, magic shows, and sculpting with clay all involve constructive play. This type of play is important because it develops problem-solving skills, promotes creativity, and builds a child’s sense of self-worth.
Games with Rules Usually, games involve multiple numbers of children, competition, and rules. This type of play may appear with preschoolers but is found more often in elementary school children. This type of play can build self-esteem if the child is proficient, but it can also be harmful if the child is ridiculed or driven too hard (by parent, coach, or even peers). Age-appropriate games and the right environment help the child learn to enjoy competition and challenges, which will be very important when applying for entrance to college and job situations.
Play Therapy Children have a difficult time trying to articulate their feelings through words. Psychologists have determined that a child expresses a great deal through play. This is the idea behind play therapy. Allow the child to play in a controlled environment and observe their behavior. This also allows a child to work through some internal conflicts you may not be aware of. Observing their play may provide insight into the inner feelings or concerns. This may help as you attempt to understand why a child is behaving a certain way. It is important to let a trained clinician assist young children when concerns arise. When in doubt, ask a child’s parent to simply check with their Pediatrician.

Our New Web Site

Welcome to our new web site for Bayfair Daycare.  We are excited about not only what this will mean to the daycare here in Pickering, Ontario, but what it means to our parents.

We are pleased to introduce our new Blog feature.  This will be a place to provide valuable information to parents including practical advice, new concepts and the latest in parenting.

Other new information will include our current menu and additional detail about our top-notch curriculum.

As usual, the site will contain our calendar, pricing, registration and more. 

Please let us know what you think about the site!




Play enhances every aspect of children’s development and learning. It is children’s window to the world. Play is so important that its significance in children’s lives is recognized by the United Nations as a specific right in addition to, and distinct from, a child’s right to recreation and leisure.[1] However, children’s opportunities for play and their access to play environments is changing.


The physical and social environments in which Canadian children develop have changed over the past several decades. It is increasingly rare for children to have long, uninterrupted blocks of time to play indoors and outdoors, by themselves or with their friends. Since the end of the Second World War, the proportion of the population living in urban areas has increased from 54% to 80%.[2] As more Canadians move into cities, their children are less likely to have access to outdoor play spaces in natural environments. Technology, traffic, and urban land-use patterns have changed the natural play territory of childhood.[3] Parents, increasingly concerned about the security of their children, are making greater use of carefully constructed outdoor playgrounds that limit challenge in the name of safety.[4] ,[5] ,[6]
Play and Literacy
There are consistent findings in research about the close relationship between symbolic play and literacy development and good evidence that increasing opportunities for rich symbolic play can have a positive influence on literacy development.[18] Pretend play with peers engages children in the same kind of representational thinking needed in early literacy activities. Children develop complex narratives in their pretend play. They begin to link objects, actions, and language together in combinations and narrative sequences. They generate language suited to different perspectives and roles.
At the same time, growing numbers of children are spending substantial time in settings that focus on structured educational and recreational activities, leaving little time for participation in open-ended, self-initiated free play.[7] According to the , Canadian parents believe that playing is more important than organized lessons for preschoolers; however, more and more parents are enrolling their very young children in lessons and other structured activities. For example, between 1999 and 2003, the percentage of Canadian four- and five-year-olds who took organized lessons (e.g., gymnastics, martial arts, etc.) increased from 23% to 30% and the percentage participating in coached sports increased from 36% to 41%.[8]


Play nourishes every aspect of children’s development—it forms the foundation of intellectual, social, physical, and emotional skills necessary for success in school and in life. Play “paves the way for learning.”[9] For example, block building and sand and water play lay the foundation for logical mathematical thinking, scientific reasoning, and cognitive problem solving.[10] Rough-and-tumble play develops social and emotional self-regulation[11] and may be particularly important in the development of social competence in boys.[12] Play fosters creativity and flexibility in thinking. There is no right or wrong way to do things; there are many possibilities in play—a chair can be a car or a boat, a house or a bed. Pretend play fosters communication, developing conversational skills,[13] turn taking, perspective taking,[14] and the skills of social problem solving—persuading, negotiating, compromising, and cooperating.[15] It requires complex communication skills: children must be able to communicate and understand the message, “this is play.”[16] As they develop skill in pretend play, they begin to converse on many levels at once, becoming actors, directors, narrators, and audience,[17] slipping in and out of multiple roles. In play, children learn by combining their ideas, impressions, and intuitions with experiences and opinions.[19] They create ideas about their world and share them with one another. They establish a culture and a social world with their peers. Play allows children to make sense—and sometimes nonsense—of their experiences and discover the intimacy and joy of friendship. When it is self-directed, play leads to feelings of competence and self-confidence. The processes of play and learning stimulate one another in early childhood—there are dimensions of learning in play and dimensions of play in learning.[21]
“Young children learn the most important things not by being told but by constructing knowledge for themselves in interaction with the physical world and with other children—and the way they do this is by playing.” [20] “Children don’t play in order to learn, although they are learning while they are playing.”[22] “The pedagogical value of play does not lie in its use as a way to teach children a specific set of skills through structured activities called ‘play.’”[23] “Supporting children’s play is more active than simply saying you believe that it is important. When children’s play culture is taken seriously, the conditions which make it flourish are carefully created. Children’s play culture does not just happen naturally. Play needs time and space. It needs mental and material stimulation to be offered in abundance. Creating a rich play environment means creating good learning environments for children.”[24] “The skillful teacher of young children is one who makes….play possible and helps children keep getting better and better at it.”[25]
There are both obvious and subtle forms of learning in play. For example outdoor play clearly contributes to children’s physical development. Less obvious is the learning that happens as children test their strength, externally and internally: How high can I climb? Why does my heart pound when I run? Am I brave enough to jump from this platform?
The Value of Outdoor Play
Nature has a positive impact on children’s physical and mental well-being.[26] ,[27] ,[28] ,[29] Parents and early educators must design outdoor play environments with the same care and attention paid to indoor environments. Natural landscapes in the outdoors typically provide:
  • rich, diverse, multisensory experiences;
  • opportunities for noisy, boisterous, vigorous, physically active play;
  • opportunities for physical challenge and risk-taking that are inherent in the value of play;
  • rough, uneven surfaces, with opportunities for the development of physical strength, balance, and coordination; and
  • natural elements and loose parts that children can combine, manipulate, and adapt for their own purposes.
Although the learning in play is powerful, it is often incidental, at least from the child’s perspective. The toddler absorbed by balancing blocks on top of one another is not necessarily motivated by a need or even a desire to learn the principles of stable physical structures, though this may indeed be what is fascinating; this learning is the byproduct of his play, and generally speaking, not its purpose.
Facilitating children’s play
Young children need a balance of opportunities for different kinds of play, indoors and outdoors. They need the support of knowledgeable adults and parents who do the following:
  • Provide long, uninterrupted periods (45–60 minutes minimum) for spontaneous free play.
  • Provide a variety of materials to stimulate different kinds of play—blocks and construction toys for cognitive development; sand, mud, water, clay, paint, and other open-ended materials for sensory play, dress-up clothes and props for pretend play; balls, hoops, climbing places, and open space for gross motor play.
  • Provide loose parts for play, both indoors and out, and encourage children to manipulate the environment to support their play.
  • Consider the opportunities for challenge and age-appropriate risk-taking in play.
  • Ensure that all children have access to play opportunities and are included in play.
  • Let children play for their own purposes.
  • Play with children on their terms, taking the occasional ride down the slide, or putting on a hat and assuming a role in pretend play.
  • Recognize the value of messy play, rough-and-tumble play, and nonsense play.
  • Understand that children need to feel a sense of belonging to the play culture of childhood.
  • Take an interest in their play, asking questions, offering suggestions, and engaging eagerly as co-players when invited.


Lessons for everyone. Although children learn to play naturally, we all have a role in ensuring that children have enough time and opportunity to play. Children need access to play environments that support rich, spontaneous play. Children learn when they play in environments with hands-on, concrete materials that encourage exploration, discovery, manipulation, and active engagement. The quantity, quality, and selection of play materials influence the interactions that take place between children. Adults help by protecting the time needed for exploration and discovery in uninterrupted play, and by interacting with children in ways that enhance their learning in play without interrupting the flow and direction of play. Lessons for early childhood educators. While children do need time to play without adult interruption, some active adult involvement can be beneficial, resulting in longer, more complex episodes of play.[30] Early childhood educators support children’s learning in play by becoming co-players, guiding and role modelling when the play becomes frustrating for the child or when it is about to be abandoned for lack of knowledge or skill. They provide new experiences for children to enrich and extend play, pose challenging questions, and encourage children to learn from one another. In many early childhood programs, “free play” is used to fill time rather than to promote learning and development. While much learning does occur during centre time and circle time, spontaneous free play is equally important to early learning. It should be a focus of educators’ planning and interactions with children. Early childhood educators and elementary school teachers need specialized preparation to engage comfortably in child-initiated free play, as well as more structured play-based learning experiences. Lessons for parentsIn studies of the use of play as a learning tool, teachers often report that they have a difficult time convincing parents of the importance of play.[31] Parents, therefore, need good information about the benefits of unstructured free play in early childhood and regular opportunities to engage with their children in play. Lessons for community planners. When asked, children express a strong preference for playing outdoors.[32] A study conducted in Germany[33] concluded that communities can improve outdoor play opportunities and reduce traffic hazards by doing the following:
  1. Increasing the number of streets with a 30-km/hr speed limit
  2. Ensuring that streets with a 50-km/hr speed limit have many pedestrian crossings
  3. Providing large numbers of playgrounds


Play stimulates physical, social, emotional, and cognitive learning in the early years. Children need time, space, materials, and the support of parents and thoughtful, skilled early-childhood educators in order to become “master players.”[34] They need time to play for the sake of playing. In the current climate of concern over school readiness, we must preserve some opportunity for children to play for their own purposes. If play always and exclusively serves adult educational goals, it is no longer play from the child’s perspective. It becomes work, albeit playfully organized.


  • Ensure that there is adequate time, space, and conditions for play to develop, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Ensure that early-learning environments have an appropriate balance of child-initiated free play and more directed learning.
  • Improve the quality and scope of play in early-learning environments.
  • Create tools to assess the quality of play environments and experiences.
  • Articulate the learning outcomes of play—social, emotional, cognitive, creative, and physical.
  • Create tools to assess the learning of individual children and groups of children in play contexts.
  • Provide a clear focus in both preservice and inservice teacher training on developing the full range of roles for adults facilitating children’s play.
  • Promote the value of play and the child’s right to play.
Useful Resources and Links
Preschool Outdoor Environment Measurement Scale DeBord, K., Hestenes, L.L., Moore, R.C. Cosco, N.G., & McGinnis, J.R. (2005). Lewisville, NC: Kaplan Early Learning. The Great Outdoors: Restoring Children’s Right to Play Outdoors Rivkin, M. (1995). Washington, D.C.: NAEYC. The Play For All Guidelines: Planning, Design, and Management of Outdoor Play Settings For All Children (2nd ed.) Moore, R., Goltsman, S., & Iacofano, D. (Eds.). (1992). Berkeley, California: MIG Communications. The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places Nabhan, G.P., & Trimble, S. (1994). Boston, MD: Beacon Press. Canadian Child Care Federation Go to the e-store to view the following titles: Outdoor play in early childhood education and care programs and Quality environments and best practices for physical activity in early childhood settings. Natural Learning Initiative Evergreen International Play Association International Play Association Canada
[1] United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 31.
[2] Statistics Canada: Population urban and rural, by province and territory. Accessed October 12, 2006.
[3] IPA Canada. The child’s right to play. Position Paper 1. Accessed August 27, 2006.
[4] Clements, R. (2004). An investigation of the status of outdoor playContemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 5(1), 68–80. Accessed July 31, 2006.
[5] Blinkert, B. (2004). Quality of the city for children: Chaos and orderChildren Youth and Environments 14(2), 99–112. Accessed August 31, 2006.
[6] National Children’s Bureau Play Safety Forum. (2002). Managing risk in play provision: A Position Statement. Accessed August 17, 2006.
[7] Academy of Leisure Sciences. White Paper #6: The state of children’s play. Accessed October 27, 2006.
[8] Source: Statistics Canada, National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, 1998-1999 and 2002-2003.
[9] Kalliala, M. (2006). Play Culture in a changing world. Berkshire, England: Open University Press.
[10] Sylva, K., Bruner, J.S., & Genova, P. (1976). The role of play in the problem-solving of children 3–5 years old. In J.S. Bruner, A. Jolly, & Sylva, K. (Eds.), Play: Its role in development and evolution (pp.244–261). New York: Basic Books.
[11] Blurton-Jones, N. (1976) [1967]. Rough and tumble play among nursery school children. In J.S. Bruner, A. Jolly, & Sylva, K. (Eds.), Play: Its role in development and evolution (pp.352–363). New York: Basic Books.
[12] Pellegrini, A. (1987). Rough-and-tumble play: Developmental and educational significance. Educational Psychology, 22 (23–43).
[13] Sawyer, R.K. (1997). Pretend play as improvisation: Conversation in the preschool classroom. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
[14] Rubin, K.H., & Howe, N. (1986). Social play and perspective-taking. In G. Fein & M. Rivkin (Eds.), The young child at play: Reviews of research, volume 4, (pp.113–126).
[15] Rubin, K.H. (1998). Some “good new” and some “not so good news” about dramatic play. In D. Bergen (Ed.), Play as a medium for learning and development, (pp.58–62).
[16] Bateson, G. (1976). [1955]. A theory of play and fantasy. In J.S. Bruner, A. Jolly, & K. Sylva, K. (Eds.), Play: Its role in development and Evolution (pp.119–129). New York: Basic Books
[17] Garvey, C. (1990). [1977]. Play. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
[18] Roskos, K.A., & Christie, J.F. (Eds.). (2000). Play and literacy in early childhood: Research from multiple perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
[19] Reynolds, P.C. (1976). [1972]. Play, language and human evolution. In J.S. Bruner, A. Jolly, & K. Sylva (Eds.), Play: Its role in development and evolution (pp. 621–635). New York: Basic Books.
[20] Jones, E., & Reynolds, G. (1992). The play’s the thing: Teachers’ roles in children’s play, p. 1.
[21] Samuelsson, I.P. & Johansson, E. (2006). Play and learning—inseparable dimensions in preschool practice. Early Child Development and Care 176 (1), pp.47-65. Available at: Metapress.com Accessed May 8, 2006.
[22] Kalliala, M. (2006). Play Culture in a Changing World, p. 20.
[23] Bergen, D. 1998. Play as a Medium for Learning and Development, p. 7.
[24] Kalliala, M. 2006. Play Culture in a Changing World, p. 139.
[25] Jones & Reynolds. 1992. The Play’s the Thing, p. 1.
[26] Moore, R., & Wong, H. (1997). Natural Learning: Creating environments for rediscovering nature’s way of teaching. Berkeley, California: MIG Communications.
[27] Wells, N.M. (2000). At home with nature: Effects of “greenness” on children’s cognitive functioning. Environment and Behavior, 32(6), 775–795.
[28] Fjortoft, I. (2004). Landscape as playscape: The effects of natural environments on children’s play and motor developmentChildren, Youth and Environments 14(2), 21–44. Accessed December 2005.
[29] Louv, R. (2005). Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books.
[30] Ward, C. W. (1996). Adult intervention: Appropriate strategies for enriching the quality of children’s play. Young Children, March 1996, 20–25.
[31] Wood, E. (1999). The impact of the National Curriculum on play in reception classes.Educational Research, 41, 1, 11-22.
[32] Cole-Hamilton, I., Harrop, A. & Street, C. (2002). The Value of Children’s Play and Play Provision: A Systematic Review of the Literature. New Policy Institute. Accessed October 12, 2006.
[33] Von Kries, R., Kohne, C., Bohm, O. & Von Hoss, H. (1998). Road injuries in school age children: Relation to environmental factors amenable to interventions. Injury Prevention, 4, 103-105.
[34] Reynolds, G., & Jones, E. (1997). Master players: Learning from children at play. New York: Teachers College Press



Educators work with a variety of complicated behaviors everyday and have mastered several techniques to deal with them. Most challenging behaviors, such as aggression, position and stubbornness can be redirected through these simple steps. How to cope: -Evaluate your own behaviors. Are you setting too many rules? Are you using a lot of “no and don’t” statements? Are you encouraging finger-pointing, arguing or raising voices? -Treat every mistake as an opportunity to learn new ideas and skills. -Be aware that sometimes a child who is behaving in an unloving way might be the child who needs love the most. -Take the time to hug, which not only distracts from negativity but also creates an important sense of belonging. If the child is disinterested in hugging you can tell them that you need a hug and when they are ready you are just a short walk away. -Social skills are incredibly important to instill in children with challenging behaviors. Take the time to model and teach them how to share, take turns, and show respect and kindness. These don’t develop overnight so invest your time into training, practice and making mistakes. Thanks to Paula, and ECE from Calgary with 20 years experience, for sharing her ideas with Together Families. More at www.togetherfamilies.com



The type of discipline you use can have a dramatic effect on your child’s development. Your discipline strategies can have a big impact on the type of relationship you have with your child. The various approaches to discipline can even influence a child’s mood and temperament into adulthood. Researchers have discovered four types of parenting styles. These different styles are dependent on what the parent feels the child needs from them. As a result, each parenting style uses a different approach to discipline.





Read more…