When your profession is not young children you seem to not know how important play is or you have forgotten, even though you used to be a child, and you turned out the way you did because someone, be it a parent, grandparent, or teacher, let you PLAY!!
It is now the job of the early childhood educator to not only teach the child but also teach or remind the parent that play is part of their child education, it is the most important part. So what should you say? Try this....
Play and learning are not two different activities, they are one and the same.
The classroom environment, the teacher plans and activities are all designed with specific learning goals in mind. The child gets to feel like that are just playing a new game and exploring something new and the teacher gets to teach them new skills along the way.
Social skills are developed through play, this is a chance for teachers to help children learn the steps to work out their issues. When children play the learn to collaborate, they negotiate and learn to solve problems.
When children play, they learn to take on new roles, we see their attention spans lengthen and they become more confident when coexisting with their peers.
Even writing and reading skills are learned through play. When children re tell familiar stories to a friend or doll, or when they draw out a map for a treasure hunt, they are learning these skills that will help them succeed at becoming successful readers and writers!
If saying all this doesn't stop them in their tracks and change their thought on the importance of play, you can simply keep going. Tell them what you know about play and how it has shaped the children in your care. Give them examples of growth through play that you have seen with your own eyes, everyday!