Why play is important for children
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Why play is important for children

23rd April, 2017

Schools and parents alike are under increasing pressure to develop children’s academic skills at an ever earlier age. Kids can start Reception at the age of 4 years old; there are mathematics and literacy books targeted at children aged 3 and older; and even children’s magazines now contain various mathematical, alphabetical and problem-solving puzzles. However, despite this emphasis on learning, there is still a place for childrens play in school.

Essential for healthy development

The importance of children’s play during school hours cannot be underestimated. When children are out in the playground, those periods of playing and interaction develop a variety of skills, ranging from the formation of social bonds through to problem solving.

We may think that play for children is just a luxury, mere meaningless fun and games, but in fact it has a plethora of positive effects. These include improvements in oral language skills; in memory; in social adjustment; and in self-regulation. It has also been linked to improvements in various aspects of academic learning, such as literacy.

Productive play for children

Of course, there are some kinds of play that are potentially ‘unproductive’ and which are less likely to have any positive effect on the child. These includes occasions in which children simply squabble over who gets to do what (although many would argue this contributes to social development); or when a child merely repeats the same game over and over, thereby learning nothing new.

However, productive play, which includes creating various imaginary roles and scenarios, allows children to grow not only intellectually but creatively too. It also enables them to build upon their social development as they learn to think about what others need and want.

While some may frown upon letting children play at school, the fact is that the benefits of this activity are numerous and are further enhanced by the creative environments we are able to construct for them.

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