Information courtesy Taylor Jacobs of Stride Learning Center.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAY IN CHILD DEVELOPMENT
As Mr. (Fred) Rogers said, For children play is serious learning. Play is really work for childhood.
Play is at the core of a childs self-concept and helps in their:
1. Social Development- Through play a child learns cooperation, the importance of social interactions, and getting along with peers.
2. Emotional Development- Play can help teach how to express thoughts and feelings, decrease anxiety, and can relieve stress (Children have stress too!!)
3. Cognitive Development- Play can help a child with problem solving, language development, creativity, and abstract thinking.
4. Physical Development- Play can increase motor development, balance, and coordination.
Types of Play:
1. Rough- and Tumble Play (Physical play)- Tickles, chase, rough housing are all types of physical play.
2. Manipulative and Exploratory Play- From infancy children use their 5 senses to explore the world around them. This type of play includes materials and it doesnt so much matter if the child is playing with the toy appropriately just that he or she is curious and engaged.
3. Social Play- Children begin to incorporate others in their play, using other types of play.
4. Symbolic or Make-believe play- Symbolic play is the ability of children to use objects, actions or ideas to represent other objects, actions, or ideas. A child may push a block around the floor as a car or put it to his ear as a cell phone. Building on symbolic play is make-believe play, which is more complex fantasy play that requires imagination.
For children 0-2 toys such as ball poppers, bubbles, and noise toys teach cause and effect and help children begin to explore and understand the world around them as well as the idea of games.
For 2,3,4,5 year olds Symbolic/Make-Believe play is a great option in which you can incorporate many skills. For instance allow the children to create a birthday party for a stuffed animal or friend, they can dress up assume different roles. While playing you can incorporate many different concepts such as learning functioning skills. Have them practice setting the table to serve the cake. They can also pour cups of water and work on this skill. In addition this activity incorporates social skills and creativity. Video tape your children with your phone or other device and have them watch it later, they love to watch themselves!
How to play with your child:
1. Join in!- When you talk with your child about what he is seeing and doing you are giving your attention to the child and stimulating language development.
2. Dont try to control the situation- Let the child lead the activity but step in to help when necessary. Remember, there is no right and wrong to play, as adults we sometimes see a situation and perceive it as wrong.
3. Turn it into a game- Dressing, going for walks, setting the table, doing laundry can all be types of play if presented the right way.
4. Most importantly remember to HAVE FUN!