The Importance of Play in Early Childhood

What is Play?

It is defined as a voluntary engagement in self-motivated activities that are normally associated with pleasure and enjoyment. It may consist of amusing, pretend or imaginary, constructive, interpersonal (social play) or intrapersonal (solitary play) interactions.

Play is important for children's development and for children to bond. The children of this generation are exposed to technology such as computers and videos. The time they spent using technology are preventing them from being physically active or using their imagination. It is a parent's role and an important one to help reduce screen time for their children. Limit screen time to no more than two hours per day and make sure that your kids get a minimum of one hour of exercise every day.


What are the Benefits of Play?

Play helps develop children's social and emotional skills

One thing that play can provide is the opportunity for children to learn social interaction. Children learn to cooperate, follow rules, develop self-control, and get along with other children. Play allows a child to learn the skills of negotiation, problem solving, sharing, and working within groups. Children who are participating in social play are more understanding of other people's feelings and beliefs. This is when empathy is being practiced and an essential element that advances children's social skills.


Play helps children develop a positive sense of self

Young children are dependent of the adults who care for them. As parents of a young child making decisions in the interests of the child is a priority, but in the eyes of the child they are made to feel powerless in many aspects of their everyday lives. However, in play children have more opportunity to make decisions. This helps develop their sense of self as it builds feelings of self-efficacy, competence, and confidence.


Play improves intelligence, learning, and memory

Children learn to think, remember, and solve problems through their play. Problem-solving abilities are enhanced through games and puzzles.


Play helps improve communication, language, and vocabulary

The use of books, games, and toys that show pictures and matching words add to a child's vocabulary. Play can help improve children to be more expressive and receptive by listening to each other.


Play allows children to be creative

Make-believe play can stimulate creativity. Children love pretending to be superheroes, fairies, and other magical characters. Play house allows kids to imitate their own family experiences and learn the different roles of family members. 


Play facilitates impulse control and regulate emotions

Having the ability to master skills that will develop self-confidence and the ability to recover quickly from setbacks are two important things that play can offer. For example, if a child is building a castle but it got knocked down, frustration sets in. Children need to learn they need to control their impulses to achieve what they want and allow themselves to express their views and experiences.

Play offers children the opportunity to socialize, to think, to mature, and to have fun. It also allows children to connect with their imagination, their parents and friends, their environment and the world.