The Importance of Play
By Dr. Janine Spencer
Banging on pots. Serving tea to Teddy. It may look like child's play, but in fact these activities are hugely beneficial and essential to a child’s development.
When children play they typically improve their physical skills. But, playing is really very important for their social development – even when they’re playing on their own! When they engage in pretend play with their toys they often act out social situations they’ve observed. As they grow up and play with other children, they learn self-control, how to share and to modify their behavior to suit different situations. It is through play that children come to understand that other people have different points of view and learn to handle situations of exclusion and dominance. And of course, the more children play with others the more they develop their language and memory skills.
Play also helps children’s thinking skills. For example, when a child first tries to build a tower out of blocks he quickly learns that they have to balance. It’s difficult for us as adults to conceptualize abstract concepts like center of gravity, but by playing with blocks children learn these principles practically and intuitively.
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