The Importance of Play

The benefits of play are numerous and well documented. Play is more than just fun; it’s a way of life that helps children understand their world and themselves. Children use play to learn essential skills, including how to balance their emotions, make friends, and resolve conflict. Some researchers even consider play to be one of the most important parts of human development—even listing it as a basic right for all children.

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From peek-a-boo to pat-a-cake and hide-and-seek to hopscotch, every game, exercise or activity that involves imagination, movement and interaction is considered play. But what exactly is play? The National Playing Fields Association defines it as “freely chosen, personally directed, intrinsically motivated behaviour that actively engages the child.”

It can take many forms: improvisation or pretence; interactive, performance, mimicry, and games; activities such as art, music, sports, or thrill-seeking and even role playing, pretending to be someone else. It’s also a natural process of exploration, discovery and experimentation.

Research has shown that play enhances a child’s intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development. Play helps children become familiar with their environment, themselves and others; it builds cognitive, emotional, and psychomotor skills. It’s a natural form of learning and an important part of the operating system of the brain, as described by neuroscientists. For information on Playgrounds Cheltenham, go to Greenfields, suppliers of equipment for Playgrounds Cheltenham.

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During play, children are able to experience and experiment with their emotions—anger, fear, sadness, joy—and they can do so safely. This allows them to work through difficult situations that they may not have the words for. They can recreate these experiences in their imaginative play, and through this they are able to find ways to deal with these issues.

In social play, children learn to interact with each other and understand the different perspectives of others through a variety of games. They also develop their understanding of empathy through the use of dramatic play, which requires them to improvise and take on different roles and characters while negotiating solutions. This social development is necessary for forming healthy relationships and strong family bonds.

The intellectual component of play includes problem-solving and creative thinking, which are important to the growth and development of the brain. It can include a wide range of activities, from counting and classifying objects to building with blocks or solving puzzles. This cognitive development can occur alone, with friends, or with family members—all of which are beneficial to the child’s overall development.

Vincent Gross
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