Girl playing

10 Ways to Understand the Value of Play

For our ’10 Ways to …’ feature this week, we explore why play is important. Read on for our ‘10 Ways to Understand the Value of Play’.

The importance of play in a child’s life cannot be underestimated. Play is a child’s work and is “serious stuff”.

  1. Importance of play: Play fosters a child’s development in every way imaginable. Play helps develop self-esteem and social skills, motor skills, and aids physical development and a child’s intelligence.
  2. Different forms of play: There are many ways in which children play.  Play can be inside or out, using toys or using household items. The imagination can be very active or the child may be focused on a puzzle or constructing a tower. It might be with water or sand, paint or dough. They may love dolls and playing house. Whatever it is, they are learning. Add things in for children to play with which will extend their learning. Such as water in the sand, bubbles in the water etc.
  3. Language: Through play, children are learning new words every day. They are playing with parents and others and have to use language to communicate and play the game they want.
  4. The 20 minute tool: By sitting with and playing with your child every day for 20 minutes, you will not only learn a vast amount of information about your child, how they think and how they see and feel the world but you will also be supporting them to play and helping them learn.
  5. Value play: Allow children time to play. Give them notice of when play time is up, as it’s time to eat or sleep or go out. Respect their time to play and notice when they are playing well with others.
  6. Social skills: Children learn how to socialise and be with others through play. Initially children like to play alone but as they reach school age they see the value in playing with others as opposed to alongside them. Sharing and taking turns can be hard work and play supports children to practice this.
  7. Emotions: You will often see children play the same role play game over and over and then one day it stops. Children will act out what they see important adults in their lives do. This helps them to learn and to understand what is happening and the roles we are playing in the world.
  8. Physical well-being: Outdoor play in particular is so important for children. They get their exercise through playing in the park, running, hide and seek, ball games etc. Children will be happier and more confident when they are fit and healthy.
  9. Aids learning: School can be difficult for some children. It is important to remember when they get in from school to allow play time. They need this to process what has happened in school, with teachers and with friends. They can feel energised after some play and then homework will usually go a lot smoother.
  10. All ages play: Children from birth onwards play, it just changes as they grow and develop. Play with your child from day one. Get comfortable with playing with them and you will be creating a solid foundation for your life together.

This ’10 Ways to …’ feature is compiled by Grace Mulligan, Crèche Team Leader, One Family.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Make Bed Time Better and 10 Ways to Successful Toilet Training.

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