The Importance of Play
Play is as vital as love, food, care and hope.
Child development experts agree that play in very important in
the learning and emotional development of all children. Play
· Play is how children experience fun and joy.
· Through play children develop their personalities and a positive
sense of self, realize their potential and experience success.
· Play unlocks children's creativity and imagination, and develops
reading, thinking and problem solving skills as well as motor
· Through play, children process and manage emotions, and understand
and interpret the world around them.
· Play helps children learn relationship and social skills, and
develop values and ethics.
Play is a "brain food" to
help brains develop in ways critical to school success. It
provides the foundation for learning
including language, reading, thinking and reasoning skills.
In addition, parent-child play provides important opportunities
for parent-child bonding.
The most authentic play experiences are child-initiated,
freely chosen, and child powered. Such play is pleasurable
active and mind absorbing.
Dr. Edgar Klugman, Professor Emeritus at Wheelock College,
Boston, one of the foremost experts in play, identifies
categories of play as follows:
Functional Play: The child enjoys repetitive play with
objects and gains motor and practice skills. Good examples
filling, stacking, water play, and outdoors play. Functional
play characterizes infants and toddlers and at age 3 constitutes
50% of a child's play. Although functional play decreases
as a child grows older, it remains important. Functional
be either solitary or parallel (another child is involved
in a similar activity at the same time.) Children experience
develop motor skills, and achieve mastery through functional
Constructive Play: The child creates or makes something
and solves problems. Examples are building with blocks,
playing with arts,
crafts and puppets and doing puzzles. Approximately 50%
of all activity for 4, 5 and 6 year olds is constructive
play, and this
type of play continues to be important through the primary
grades. Children can play constructively alone as well
as with others.
This type of play develops thinking and reasoning skills,
problem solving, and creativity.
Pretend Play: Through pretend play, children transform
themselves, others, and objects from real into make-believe.
can be both a solitary and a group activity. It reaches
its highest level at pre-school and kindergarten age and
becomes less important
as a child grows older. Pretend play helps children process
emotions and events in their lives, practice social skills,
develop language skills, and create a rich imagination.
Games with Rules Play: This play involves pre-set rules
such as board games, ball games, chanting, and skipping
type of play becomes dominant as children reach school
age. Through this type of play children learn and practice
understanding, and logical thinking.
M. Mikelson, President, Highlights-Jigsaw, Highlights for
Children's New Party Plan Company. Pat Mikelson,
granddaughter of the founders of Highlights for
Children magazine, now
shares their "Fun with a Purpose" philosophy
with parents and children through a new party
plan company, Highlights-Jigsaw. Learn
Klugman, Edgar, and Fasoli, Lynn. Taking the High Road
Toward a Definition of Play, Play, Policy and Practice.
St. Paul, Minnesota:
Red Leaf Press, 1995. pp. 195 – 201.