Play can be defined as what children do when they follow their own ideas and interests, in their own way, for their own reasons and enjoyment. It is important that you provide opportunities for and get involved in their play. As you engage in play, you become a role model to your child, especially on how to positively interact with others. Your actions will speak louder than words, so be aware of your body language and mannerisms.
There are many benefits to play. Children gain knowledge through their play and they learn to think, remember, and solve problems. They can practice decision making skills, move at their own pace and discover their own interests during play.
Play is the first opportunity for your child to discover the world. It gives them the chance to test their beliefs and develop an understanding of their world. It encourages them to express their thoughts, ideas, interests and feelings through a variety of mediums.
Through play your child can be creative and develop their own imagination, which is important for healthy brain development. Imaginative and dramatic play provides your child with the opportunity to take on a variety of characters, which helps them learn about the different roles in their family and community. They can also imitate their own life experiences, this can help them make sense of what has occurred and gives them a chance to reflect.
Play offers your child the ability to master skills that will help develop self confidence and the ability to recover quickly from setbacks. For example, a child may feel pride in stacking blocks and disappointment when the last block makes the stack fall. It allows children to express their views, experiences and at times, frustrations. Play with other children can help your child learn how to be part of a group. It also allows them to learn the skills of negotiation, problem solving, sharing, and working within groups.
Play is an essential and critical part of all children’s development. Play starts in a child’s infancy and ideally, continues throughout his or her life. Play is how children learn to socialise, to think, to solve problems, to mature and most importantly to have fun. Play connects children with their imagination, family, peers, environment and the world.