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Why Play Is Important to Children

Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity!

Play is an essential part of the development of a child. It contributes to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of their youth. Even though play is a necessity, a variety of factors have reduced play, which includes a hurried lifestyle, changes in family structure, and increased attention to academics and enrichment activities at the expense of recess or free child-centered play. Play is important to optimal child development, because every child deserves the opportunity to develop to their unique potential, child advocates must consider all factors that interfere with optimal development and press for circumstances that allow each child to fully reap the advantages associated with play.

Benefits of Play

Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination.. Play is important for the development of a healthy brain.It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. It allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers. As they master their world, play helps children develop new competencies that leads to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges. Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills.

When play is allowed to be child driven, children practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover their own areas of interest, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue ideally, much of play involves adults, but when play is controlled by adults, children acquiesce to adult rules and concerns and lose some of the benefits play offers them, particularly in developing creativity, leadership and group skills. In contrast to passive entertainment, play builds active, healthy bodies. In fact, it has been suggested that encouraging unstructured play may be an exceptional way to increase physical activity levels in children, which is one important strategy in the resolution of the obesity epidemic. Perhaps above all, play is a simple joy that is a cherished part of childhood.

Children’s developmental trajectory is critically mediated by appropriate, affective relationships with loving and consistent caregivers as they relate to children through play. When parents observe their children in play or join with them in child-driven play, they are given a unique opportunity to see the world from their child’s vantage point as the child navigates a world perfectly created just to fit his or her needs.The interactions that occur through play tell children that parents are fully paying attention to them and help to build enduring relationships. Parents who have the opportunity to glimpse into their children’s world learn to communicate more effectively with their children and are given another setting to offer gentle, nurturing guidance. Less verbal children may be able to express their views, experiences, and even frustrations through play, allowing their parents an opportunity to gain a fuller understanding of their perspective. Quite simply, play offers parents a wonderful opportunity to engage fully with their children.