“Play connects us to the world and to each other and offers unlimited possibilities” – Purposeful Play
Play is an extremely important part of a child’s development. For kids, playing is a natural and pleasurable way to stay active, stay healthy, and be happy. Play that is freely selected promotes a child's or adolescent's healthy growth. From birth to adolescence, they require a variety of unstructured play experiences to maintain excellent physical and mental health and to learn life skills. Children construct knowledge through hands-on play. They learn about themselves and the world around them through play. Play also helps them understand how to participate in a group, and helps them see themselves as capable and successful individuals among their peers.
A child engages in freely chosen play when they decide and direct it based on their own interests, creativity, and instincts. They engage in play without parental supervision. The way you play has no right or wrong approach. Children's development, health, and well-being all benefit from free play. Children and young people who play have better cognitive, physical, social, and emotional health. Children learn about the world and about themselves through play.
Here are some skills developed during play –
1) Physical Development
- Children can improve their small and large motor skills during play, this includes stuff like holding a toy, rolling playdough, painting with paintbrushes, throwing a ball, or riding a bike.
- It can improve their spatial skills, which relates to understanding symmetry or building objects.
- Play can also improve children’s whole-body coordination, through activities like running, climbing, swimming.
- Children’s hand-eye coordination is strengthened through play.
- Play is also responsible for ensuring that children learn balance at the right age.
2) Language and Literacy Development
- Being around peers while playing with them, encourages children to improve their communication skills.
- Play can also help children improve their vocabulary.
- Through play, children are also encouraged to be active listeners, a life-long skill that they continue to benefit from.
3) Cognitive Development
- Play helps children develop problem solving skills from a young age.
- Children’s creativity, imagination, and curiosity flourish because of play. Through play, they are able to interact with their peers and express themselves.
- Children are able to take on and assign roles to their peers through different types of play.
- Play introduces children to the concept of abstract thinking for the first time and helps them develop it throughout their lives.
- Play helps children become aware of their environment. Through elements of play, they can even choose to change their environment.
4) Socio-Emotional Development
- By interacting with their peers, through elements of play, children learn the basics of self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Play is a great tool to help children learn about their emotions and also understand how to express emotions in a healthy manner.
- Children can learn teamwork and collaboration through play.
- Play is an important way for children to understand what is deemed as normal behaviour by society and for them to practice their social skills.
- Play helps children understand the concept of rules. Furthermore, it also helps them negotiate the idea of rules.
Because it enhances children's and adolescents' cognitive, physical, social, and emotional health, play is crucial to development. The optimal time for parents to interact fully with their children is during play. Despite the advantages of play for kids and parents alike, some kids' free play time has been drastically restricted. It's crucial that kids engage in a wide variety of play activities. Play that is both structured and unstructured, indoors and outdoors, solo and in groups, involving crafts and other forms of creativity, etc. The physical, social, emotional, and creative aspects of a child's learning and development benefit from variation.