Why Play?

Posted: August 12th, 2013

Why Playing Is Important For Children




Why Playing Is Important For Children

The Definition of Play and Its Relationship to Healthy Development and Learning

Child play can simply be defined as what a child naturally does when left alone. Playing helps in the development of children’s understanding capability, healthy physical growth and their communication with their peers. During play also, children discover their creativity and develop their capacity to imagine (Ginsburg 2007). Playing is also essential for children’s brain development during early childhood as it is how children first explore their surrounding. Essential life skills like problem solving, decision making and concentration are first noticed in children while playing.

When children are left to play alone, they learn how to control their pace, how to make their own decisions and when to respond to other people. Sharing and negotiation are first learnt by children when they play. It is through playing with their parents that a child first realizes the important role parents play. It is through playing that children learn of simple crafts and discover their sexual orientation. The physical build up made when children play is also essential in maintaining good health. The experience children get in playing also fills them with joy and happiness. This is necessary for their emotional well-being. Children playing by themselves unmonitored by adults learn how to work in groups.

Why Play Has Become Elusive In Education Settings

In most schools, children are given less time for scheduled play while they are hurried to suit into adult-like roles. Play time has been reduced and playing has been structured for learning rather than enjoyment. Children’s play time in school also decreases as they advance their education with academics continually consuming most of their time. However, playing in school is crucial to children as it develops their social and emotional capabilities while they interact within the school environment. Playing in school has also been associated with enhancing children’s readiness to learn.

Different Types of Play and the Different Benefits of Play

            Children engage in different types of play, as they get older. Unoccupied play is the first attempt by children at playing in the early months of infancy. Solitary play involves babies playing on their own usually from three to sixteen months. During onlooker play, children watch others play while they learn usually from one and a half years. From around age three, children engage in social play and interact with other children. In this play, children learn sharing and conversing. Motor-physical play occurs when children play games such as hide and seek offering them a chance to exercise therefore maintaining good health (Ginsburg 2007). In constructive and expressive play, children explore their creativity and learn how to communicate their feelings.

In constructive and expressive play, material such as crayons and pencils, clay and water are used. In fantasy play children build their imagination (Bailey 2006). At this stage, they mention their dreams of the future and identify their potential careers. Cooperative play is done in groups with set group goals. At this stage, children start participating in team sports such as soccer, introducing them to rules and following them. As benefits of play, children develop their problem solving capabilities through puzzles and other games. They also acquire an understanding of measurements and texture through play. A vital benefit is that children start recognizing the essence of teamwork while engaging in group play.



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