The Importance of Play

Play is crucial to a child’s development, as it enriches their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being. Not only does play aid children in comprehensive development, but it also allows parents to connect with their little one at the child’s level, creating a bond throughout childhood. Play is largely based in interaction. As a child plays, they are interacting with the people and environment around them. They can learn how objects work and how others may react to certain activities. As the interaction grows and develops, a child’s confidence and resiliency also build as they are beginning to master their environment.

Although it is immensely important for a parent to play with their child, it is equally, if not more important for children to play with other children. When children play with others, they can maintain creativity and leadership, while with parents some of this is lost as the child begins to accept the adult role within play structure.

Play is crucial throughout life. As the child enters a school setting, play becomes important in developing their social and emotional well-being. Additionally, when play is utilized in a school setting, it aids in the child’s readiness for learning and their problem-solving skills.

Different types of play to consider:

  • Unstructured play is unplanned play that naturally occurs in the environment. It will typically take place and is important when a child is younger, so they can utilize their imagination, combined with their interests to create a play scheme.
    • Examples of unstructured play
      • Creative play including musical or artistic games
      • Exploring new spaces such as backyards, playgrounds, etc.
      • Imaginative games such as make believe or dress-up
  • Structured play is organized play that occurs in a fixed setting and at a specific time. Typically, it is led by a grown-up, and it is more beneficial towards older children, as they develop and can understand multistep directions.
    • Examples of structured play
      • Outdoor ball games such as shooting a basketball
      • Swimming lessons
      • Storytelling at the local library
      • Dance or music classes
      • Board or card games