- Play is very important for your child's development.
- There are many different types of play.
- The most important thing is to make sure your child is in a safe and secure environment.
- When we play, we live happier, healthier lives and have a more positive outlook on life.
Play should be encouraged
Play is fun.
Play is also important and should be supported and encouraged from the day they are born. Play develops your child’s:
- imagination and creativity
- reading, writing and counting skills
- problem solving skills
- social skills, including learning to get along with others and resolving conflict
- physical skills, including coordination, balance, flexibility
- talking and listening skills
- understanding of others and the ability to accept difference
- understanding of themselves and their place in the world.
All of these benefits are why play times are an important part of your child’s day at school.
Types of play
There are many different types of play. For example, role playing, imaginative play, playing with others, making all sorts of creations using everyday materials, arranging objects, discovering how things work and quiet play like solving puzzles or building things by themselves.
Children can make up their own rules when playing, or they can play by the established rules of a game. Either way, this teaches them the value of having rules and following them.
Sometimes your child may be content to watch other children play before joining in, especially in new or strange environments. They may also sit beside other children, playing near but not with them.
Play also helps your child form friendships.
Your child will probably prefer a particular type of play. Where possible, try to encourage your child to experiment with different types of play and playing with others. The important thing is that your child enjoys themselves, either on their own or with other children.
Your role in your child’s play
Of course, the most important thing is to make sure your child is in a safe and secure environment. But this doesn’t mean you have to be there every time your child plays. While it is fun and important to play with your child, it is also important to encourage their independence.
You can just sit back, watch and enjoy as your child learns, explores and tests new ideas through their play. You can also be a stage manager, organising space, time and things to support your child's play. You might also have to resolve conflicts.
If your child is unwell or has special needs, you may also play as an assistant, inviting children who are shy or do not how to join in in a way that can help them ease into the activity.
You might also need to join in the play or even if you are not actually part of the play, sit alongside imitating what they're doing. You could then introduce something different or use something in a different way into what you are doing and hopefully your child will imitate you in their own play.
Always remember it’s not your play, but your child’s.
Playfulness continues throughout our life. Researchers believe that when we play, we live happier, healthier lives and have a more positive outlook on life.