While play is a simple thing, it is also quite complex and comes in many different forms. Social play is when children have fun with each other, independent play is by themselves, and adults providing context is guided play. It’s these multiple forms of playtime which help development of a child’s brain and body in essential ways. Because ultimately, play is how our children learn.
Play helps kids grow up strong and healthy. In fact, studies have shown that play is essential to a child’s development as it contributes to their overall well-being. They learn how to navigate their world, while also imagining their place in it.
As they often play sports, games, or dance using their bodies, children can develop their strength, coordination, reflexes, and muscle control. While it helps children develop their physical skills, it also encourages movement while increasing awareness of their spatial surroundings. It also supports increases in stamina, energy, flexibility, balance and dexterity, while also promoting fine motor skills. Play also allows them to push their limits and motivates them to experiment with new things.
Children are well-known to create stories and invent fantasies during dramatic play, which helps children improve their language skills. Through play with other children or by themselves, they can follow the rules of conversation, or they can break them. They can play various roles, imagine themselves differently, and act out their storyline by speaking. Their language and literacy skills can be developed further with age, by introducing more fleshed out environments like a doctor writing a script or a teacher writing on a chalkboard.
Playtime with other children of a similar age is crucial to build their social skills from a young age. This is because playing with other children teaches them to how to listen and pick up on social cues, or develop empathy by understanding their perspective. It really is amazing how simply interacting and playing with other children teaches them how to express their feelings and share their ideas, all while negotiating with each other before reaching a compromise. It’s all about playing in a social environment that’s also safe.
This is why parents should always make an informed decision when choosing a childcare centre (like those in South Perth) for their child. Because learning to play with their peers is a crucial social skill which is most effective when taught from an early age.
As the most substantial brain development happens during the first five years of a child’s life, play can actually have a long-lasting impact that shapes their future as an adult. Playtime stimulates brain development by developing skills like executive function and creative thinking. Especially during construction play, as building with blocks develops strong mathematical and problem-solving skills by classifying, counting, and examining patterns.
Simply by placing an importance on playtime during early childhood can promote healthy intellectual development. Play can reinforce children’s memory, promote critical thinking, and even help them understand concepts like trial and error or cause and effect.