We’ve all heard the term, “Oh, that’s child’s play.” Usually when we hear that it implies something is easy, frivolous and unimportant in the overall scheme of things. But to a child, child’s play is essential to their mental, social, emotional, and physical development. We all know that children like to play, heck, even adults like to play too! But what we may not know is the importance of play in a child’s life and that play is more than drawing pictures or swatting blocks around the floor. Play is essential to every area of a child’s growth, development and early learning.
Play provides a means for energy to be put to use. For older kids, play is a way of expressing themselves, cultivating imagination and blowing off steam. For younger kids, play strengthens and refines small and large motor skills, and it builds stamina and strength. Sensory learning develops mostly through play. Play is significant to physical development in that without it the body could not grow and develop normally.
Children also learn to relate to one another, negotiate roles, share, and obey rules through play. They also learn how to belong to a group and how to be part of a team. A child obtains and retains friends through learning, and experiencing, how to “play nice” and this helps them develop a strong sense of self. They learn about fairness and appropriate ways of expressing emotion such as anger, fear, frustration, stress and discover ways of dealing with these feelings.
So the next time you see your child engaged in a robust game of pretend pirates, coloring pictures, make finger paintings, building towns with Lego, putting on a puppet show, or even building a tent in the middle of the living room, encourage it! There is a little genius at work here so let them play. Childhood is fleeting so let them enjoy being a kid while they are one.
What is your child’s favorite playtime activity?