Why Is Play Important?
All children are born with a natural drive to play.
Many adults think that play is unnecessary; however play is a vital part of childhood and is necessary for every child’s healthy development. Through play children are able to develop the skills and abilities they will require as they grow older. Play is a biological, psychological and social necessity that is fundamental to the healthy growth, development and well-being of individuals and communities.
Play supports children to move through each stage of their development naturally, allowing them to make friends, come to terms with difficulties, follow their instincts, think and learn from others.
Children can play on their own, together with other children or with adults who support them. Loving and caring adults can help children to develop through play. For adults, playing with children helps them to understand the child’s point of view. It builds respect between adults and children and helps them communicate better. Children benefit from joining in playful activities with adults, however if there is too much adult control children do not benefit as much.
What Is Play?
Play is what children and young people do in their own time for their own reasons.
For children, play should be freely chosen, personally directed and instrinsically motivated. That is, children and young people should be able to determine and control their play by following their own instincts, ideas and interests, in their own way for their own reasons.
Play takes many forms; doing nothing in particular, doing lots, being boisterous, showing off, being contemplative, overcoming difficulties etc. Through play children explore the world and learn to take responsibility for their own choices.
Play can be sociable or solitary, play can help children to climb, swing, gallop and chase. It can help them to try things out, test boundaries, develop confidence, explore and experiment the world around them.