Importance of Play in Children

Importance of Play in Children

a child playing with toys

Children are fond of playing. It is essential for their growth and development. All children have the right to play irrespective of all odds. For children of diverse age groups different types of play and varieties of play materials are available. Some children love to play alone, some love to play with friends and some love to play with parents.

Importance in development

Play is defined as any activity freely chosen, intrinsically motivated and personally directed. According to Stuart Brown (2009), a famous psychiatrist, play is the basis of all art, games, books, sports, movies, fashion, fun, and wonder – in short, the basis of what we think of as civilization. Children play by themselves without being told by adults. They play instinctively and in their own way. They love to play with their own ideas and interests, and gain knowledge of their own world and the world around them.

Parents need to provide their children required facilities and opportunities as per their abilities. Some parents provide play materials to their children and encourage playing. On the other hand, some parents do not understand the role of play in child’s life. Play and study should be well balanced for school going children. For Children, play acts as a medium to express their feelings and thoughts. Play activities are pleasurable which make the players mentally relaxed. It can stimulate imagination and also help children develop creative mindset.

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Play can be used as therapy to help children to deal with problems relating to adjustment. Group play aids in language development in children, as they verbally communicate with each other. It also stimulates their moral development as children learn about good and bad. They learn that good activities bring happiness and bad activities hurt others. Children learn about human activities & behavior through play in groups.

Nurturing Minds and Bodies

Children learn to experience and organize different sensory stimuli during play. In this way, concepts are formed along with enjoyment. Play activities are helpful for development of motor functions and sensory-motor coordination too. It promotes good general health and increases metabolic rate. So, it is effective in reducing obesity in children. It also has the potential to reduce anxiety, depression, aggression, and sleep problems. Play helps children to develop many good habits necessary for living a healthy life. It reduces negative emotions, improves emotional flexibility, increases adaptability and ability to face the sudden changes in the environment appropriately.

Children acquire socially acceptable qualities through play activities that develops their self-confidence to participate in social activities in the community. Play improves quality of life of children. Children show gender preferences in playing and possess an interest in certain types of toys, certain specific color, etc. Children should get equal opportunity to play.

Child Engagement, Preferences, and Supervision

Types of play should be based on the needs of the particular child. Infants play solitary, whereas toddlers like parallel play. Gradually, as the child grows, they likes to play with others in a cooperative manner. Some children are very imaginative. They imagine life in inanimate objects and can make themselves busy. School children like to play in groups. They like to interact with each other in group play. Some children like solitary play; drawing and painting, making models etc. Many new play materials and gadgets for solitary play, are entering the market which is the result of scientific and technological development.

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Small children should be allowed to play under adult supervision to prevent accidents. Adolescents need proper guidance and supervision as well. They can be given opportunity to learn games and sports systematically under specialist coach as per their needs and interests. There is individual difference in needs, interests, and special abilities of children regarding choice of sports & play materials.

Play is beneficial for children. It sharpens their intelligence and make them more disciplined. Children learn to be social by observing behavior of others. Through group games, they develop different group behaviors & soft skills. They also learn socio-cultural norms through group activities. They feel happy as they enjoy with playmates.

Play in Pediatric Healthcare Settings

Certain developments cannot occur due to play deprivation in children. Children sometimes play roles of adults as they observe in day to day life and learn to take decision in some conflicting situations, learn to control own behavior and solve problems they face while playing with peers. It is essential for children to become mature adult in later life.

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Children need facilities for playing, for healthy development and growth. Play is very essential for holistic development of children. Children who are hospitalized also have the right to play. They should not be deprived of it. Every children’s hospital or children’s ward in any hospital needs to have play room or sufficient space for playing. Hospital environment itself is a stress for small children. Recreational activities help these children to adjust in the hospital environment. Age appropriate play should be provided to the sick children if they are ambulatory and if they are not suffering from contagious disease.

“Play is the royal road to childhood happiness and adult brilliance.”

Joseph Chilton Pearce

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