Why is Play important?

“The right to play is a child’s first claim on the community. Play is nature’s training for life. No community can infringe that right without doing deep and enduring harm to the minds and bodies of it’s citizens” (David Lloyd George)

Imaginative play

“By playing, children learn and develop as individuals, and as members of the community” (Best Play, NPFA 2002)

“Letting children go out and play is one of the best things that parents can do for their children’s health” (Mackett 2004)

A mix of active, imaginative and creative play makes for a brilliantly balanced diet of play.

Some children prefer to spend most of their time with creative play, some with imaginative play and others with active play. There is nothing wrong in liking one toy or game in particular, but a balanced diet of play is best for development. In other words, it's good for your child to play in lots of different ways.

Each type of play contributes in its own way to all-round psychological progress. Your child gets something different out of playing with different toys. Encourage your child to achieve a balanced diet of play by offering a regular change of play activities. You can suggest new types of games and new toys.

A balanced diet of play is as important as good food or love. According to Dr Richard Woolfson (an educational psychologist with 30 years' experience and a qualified nursery and primary school teacher), a portion each of three types of play each day helps with every child's healthy development:

  • Creative play is about drawing, painting, playing music, cooking, or making something (anything!). It doesn't matter what your child makes, or whether there's a perfect result. Through creative play, your child expresses his- or herself, learns about process, discovers cause and effect and gains pride in their achievements.
     
  • Imaginative play starts in your child's head. It can be role-playing, creating a new game, giving toys a voice, inventing adventures or playing a word game. Through imaginative play your child begins to understand the world, investigates fact and fiction, and develops positive relationships with themselves and other people.
     
  • Active play is how your child moves in the world. It is running, jumping, catching and dancing - all of which build strength and boost coordination. Active play is also a great way to learn about teamwork, release tension and feel truly free.

Play is a serious business, as far as children are concerned. Play makes an immense contribution to your child's development in lots of important ways.

As a child plays, they learn all about themselves and what they can do. Play helps them make friends, enjoy company and discover the world around them. Your child has fun while playing and at the same time is exercising, discovering and developing both emotionally and physically. That's what makes play so wonderful!

Improving Confidence Through Play

Play boosts your child's self-confidence in many ways:

  • Exploration. By learning through discovery, your child develops belief in their skills and abilities.
     
  • Movement. As soon as your child can move, they want to play. The "I got there by myself" expression shows your child's growing confidence. Playing is also a fantastic form of exercise and as the facts show us, children need regular exercise.

    Facts:

    • Welsh children are the second most overweight in Europe
    • According to recent research by the World Health Organisation – in Wales, 23% of boys and 17% of girls are obese.
    • 60% of children spend up to 4 hours a day watching TV.
    • Only 60% of children have regular opportunities to play outside.

     
  • Imagination. Children use their imagination in pretend-play. This is a new and exciting experience for children, and they love it.
     
  • Creativity. Every child can be creative in play. Your child will be delighted when you smile at their drawings and paintings.
     
  • Socialising. Playing with friends is a great way for your child to learn important social skills like sharing and taking turns.
     
  • Problem-solving. Your child's confidence is boosted by solving a puzzle - they would rather do it without too much help.
     
  • Language. Playing with others builds up your child's vocabulary, speech and communication skills.

Individual Play Patterns

The way your child plays depends on many different factors. First there's their age and stage of development - play becomes more complicated as your child grows older. Personality matters too - an enthusiastic child will get stuck in to toys immediately while a passive child may hold back. The range of toys and games available affects play - a child who hasn't got a pedal toy, for example, won't learn how to make it move by pushing the pedals.

Every child instinctively needs to play. But there are many distractions that can grab young interest. For example, a television programme or a computer game may attract your child's attention away from toys and games.

A Balanced Diet of Play

Some children prefer to spend most of their time with creative play, some with imaginative play and others with active play. There is nothing wrong in liking one toy or game in particular, but a balanced diet of play is best for development. In other words, it's good for your child to play in lots of different ways. Each type of play contributes in its own way to all-round psychological progress. Your child gets something different out of playing with different toys. Encourage your child to achieve a balanced diet of play by offering a regular change of play activities.

Top Tips To Boost Your Child's Confidence Through Play

  • Give lots of praise when your child plays well.
     
  • Use age-appropriate toys that challenge your child's understanding.
     
  • Gently encourage your child to play with puzzle toys.
     
  • Aim for your child to increase learning in small stages.
     
  • Let your child choose what toys to play with, most of the time.
     
  • Prove that you are interested by watching your child at play.
     
  • Be sympathetic when your child becomes frustrated in play.
     
  • Avoid comparing the way your child plays with the way another child plays.
     
  • Brag to your friends and relatives about your child's play achievements in front of them.
     
  • Give your child a cuddle sometimes during play.

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Last Updated: 05.11.2009 at 13:29

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