10 Ways Play Can Help Children Develop

Playgroup NSW

Categories: Learning through Play

Parents have a valuable resource on their hands to help their children learn important life lessons: play is children’s favourite activity, especially for children 3-5 years old. It is also one of the simplest and most natural ways for children to learn, as they don’t even notice they are doing it.

Let’s see some of the ways play can have an important role into the learning process of a child.

1.    Children learn when playing

Play is a valuable resource, capable of helping children learn and develop their personalities. Through play, children develop:

  • Their cognitive skills: children develop rational, abstract thinking and problem solving skills when playing bank or grocery store pretend.
  • Their physical abilities, when climbing trees, running on the playground, chasing one another.
  • Their vocabulary, when they play with toys and they have to come up with their own words for them.
  • Their social skills, when playing together with other playmates.
  • Their literacy skills, like creating their own grocery store banners.
  • Their negotiation skills, when playing with other playmates and they have to get along and share their toys.
  • They develop their creative and imaginative skills, when creating different shapes with playdough or mixing and matching colours for a painting.

2.    It’s healthy for children to play

Whether they are playing indoors or outdoors, play is healthy for children. It keeps them active and engaged. Like any other physical activity, it helps them get strong and healthy, and keeps them safe from obesity.

3.    Playing releases children from stress

Play can be a stress releasing activity. Why? Because it’s a happy and joyful activity - children are having so much fun – which helps them relax and release any anxiety and stress they might experience. It also helps build up their confidence and self-awareness when they engage in play activities that involve problem solving.

4.    Playing is not always simple

Play is not always simple, it is quite complex. There are many types of play, depending on which aspect of a child’s development is targeted.

Researchers are still observing how play works and trying to figure out its many aspects like: how can children learn by playing, how outdoor play influences children’s health, what is the influence screen time has on play, and so on.

5.    Finding the time to play is not always convenient

Find the time to play. Parents and close family members can be the best advocates for a child’s development by encouraging children to play and joining them into their play. In the end, the objective is to facilitate children’s harmonious development through play.

All types of play are equally important (individual play, social play, play with adults etc.) as they each target a different area of a child’s developmental process.

6.    Playing is learning

When playing, children learn without being aware of it. One of the best ways to illustrate this is by imagining that play provides children with a “laboratory for experiments”. These “experiments” not only fascinate children, they also teach them important lessons, like cause and effect and analysing results. On top of that, they are interesting and easy to follow.

7.    Go and play outside

Outdoor play is important for a child’s development, as we’ve mentioned before. But there’s also the aspect of creating memories - and that is equally important.

Think about your own memories of building a fort, playing in the park with other children or those fun and crazy water games you played as a child. They were all happening outside! So make sure you and your child make time to play outdoors.

8.    Play is still being researched

There’s still a lot to learn about play, but at the same time there are a lot of available  resources about the effects and benefits of play for children. To give an example, a valuable resource is the NAEYC articles and books about play and the book by David Elkind, “The Power of Play” (Da Capo, 2007 reprint).

9.    Play is a lot about instinct

Play comes naturally for children. Give them a bit of time and space and they are able to come up with amazing ideas and stories. Imagination is a beautiful thing when you’re a child. So let your child take the lead in weaving their stories, talk to them about their play experience, and share these magical moments together.

10. Play is the natural environment for learning

Play is instinctive and natural for a child, it’s their natural environment and the most efficient tool/resource for learning. Children learn new things through play, and they also reinforce and strengthen their skills.

One of the best learning environments for children is role play. There are a lot of great examples of role-play, like: playing the teacher, doctor, waiter etc. For example, when playing doctor, children examine the human body, write prescriptions, learn about empathy, and chooses between various instrument toys (toy scissors, toy stethoscope etc.).

Play allows children to learn valuable life lessons they cannot learn in any other environment.

Learn more about play

Our website has lots of ideas for play and craft activities, so if you want to try them out you can find them here.

Attending a playgroup is a great way for your child to play with other children. If you are not already attending a playgroup, find a playgroup now. 

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