Why is Play So Important for Children?

Research has shown that children have fewer opportunities to play than they used to have 30 years ago. Not only is this a reflection of their parents’ fast-paced lifestyle, but also because of technological advances. Children might be entertained by passive forms of play such as tablets and games consoles, but none offer the same benefits as they can get from free play.

Playing helps children whatever the stage of their development. They can hone their motor and cognitive skills and improve their memory. Playing with one or more other children also boosts their linguistic abilities. Having to communicate what they want to do and why and then negotiate or compromise with others during the game are all verbal skills that will be needed throughout the whole of their academic and professional life.

Part of the communication necessary for playing a game involves learning many other important social skills such as getting along with others, taking turns, empathising with others, social inclusion and resolving any conflicts as they arise. These can’t be learnt through solitary play.

A central part of play is how it can help children to use their imagination, explore who they are and what they want to be. They can use the game as a form of self-expression, make sense of their own feelings and to a great extent, make sense of the world around them too.

Anyone looking after children has to realise that children can’t be forced to play. It should be a voluntary activity and above all, be fun. Their enjoyment, laughter and the physical energy expended on playing can all combine to help children release any pent-up feelings of stress, anxiety and boredom.

One of the mistakes that parents make nowadays is to equate quantity with quality when it comes to toys. Just because a child has a lot of toys, it doesn’t necessarily make a happy child. Firstly, any child would rather have someone to play with than be expected to entertain themselves in isolation with piles of games. Playing with someone else in a game doesn’t require much – if any – equipment. Children in a group can quite happily entertain themselves with little more than their imagination.

The other issue is that cheap games are often poorly-constructed and badly-designed. As a result, they’re rapidly abandoned either because they’re broken, or they don’t hold the children’s interest. For this reason, it is important to look for quality when shopping for kids’ toys. This can save a lot of money in the long run. If money is tight, then the best direct lender can offer an online short term loan to help you out until your financial circumstances improve.

Play is an integral part of childhood, and it should be encouraged in order to bring up well-adjusted members of society. The most important is to provide kids with different play opportunities: solitary play with electronic devices, playing as a family and free group play with their peers.

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