Tuesday, 01 October 2013 10:25

The Importance of Play

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Six Reasons Why Play is Important for Children




Research shows that play is important to the optimum development of children during their childhood years. Play supports young children's social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development (Fromberg and Bergen 2006). However, when young adults are asked to recall their most memorable play experiences, they typically give elaborate and joyous accounts of their play during the ages of eight to 12 (Fromberg, 2002). Fromberg and Bergen (2006) note that much of the play these young adults report involve elaborate, pretense scripts conducted for a long duration at home, in their neighborhood, or in their school yard.


Below I have identified 6 Reasons why Play is Important for Children



    1.Play teaches children social and emotional skills. During play children practice their powers to self-direct, self-organize, exert self-control, and negotiate with others (Fromberg and Bergen, 2009). Even when engaged in rough-and-tumble play, if it was a mutual decision, the children involved demonstrate self-control (Reed and Brown 2000). Such experiences build confidence in deferring immediate gratification, persevering, and collaborating.

    2.Play teaches children Affiliation. Fromberg and Bergen (2009) note that children who negotiate their play together fulfill their need for affiliation. How to enter into play successfully is a negotiation skill, and it requires practice and the opportunity to be with peers. The loner child who stands on the outside of a group and observes may not have these skills; these children may meet their needs for affiliation by joining a gang or by resorting to bullying and violence.
    3.Play teaches children Cognitive Development. Play teaches children how to exercise their executive skills when planning pretense scripts, using symbols in games, designing constructions, and organizing games with rules (Fromberg and Bergen, 2006). For example, in construction play with blocks, exploratory manipulation precedes the capacity to create new forms. These three-dimensional constructions help older children develop the visual-spatial imagery that supports learning in mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Outdoor seasonal games that require eye-hand coordination and aiming--such as hop scotch, jump rope, tag, and baseball--also build the imagery that supports such concepts (Fromberg and Bergen, 2006).
      4.Humor is also a skill that is also learnt through childhood play. Some humor during play is "nonsense" humor; however most humor involves cognitive incongruity, which demonstrates what children know. That is, by using puns, jokes, exaggerations, and other word play, they show their knowledge of the world and gain power and delight in transforming that knowledge in incongruous ways (Fromberg and Bergen, 2009).


      5.Play teaches children Imagination and Creativity. Children dramatize roles and scenarios with miniature animals, toy soldiers, and media action figures, using themes from their experiences, including "playing school." Some urban children might dramatize cops and gangs. Children in both urban and rural areas engage in such pretense, trying on a sense of power and independence, by imagining "what if" there were no adult societies. As they try roles and pretend possible careers, they seek privacy from adults during much of this play, preferring tree houses, vacant lots, basements, or other "private" spaces. Symbolic games, such as Monopoly (using a board or online forms), as well as other computer or board games, add to the development of social learning and competence as children increasingly become precise about following the rules of the game (Singer and Singer, 2006).


      6.Play also helps develop a child’s fine and gross motor skills. Learning to use a writing tool, helps refine a child’s fine motor skills. Gross motor development, such as hopping and skipping, develops in a similar fashion. When children first learn to hop, they practice hopping on different feet or just for the pure joy of hopping (Isenberg & Jalongo, 2010).








    Fromberg, D. P. and Bergen, D. Play from Birth to 12. New York: Routledge, 2006.

    Fromberg, D. P. Play and Meaning in Early Childhood Education. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2002.

    Fromberg, D. P. And Bergen, D. Play and Social Interaction in Middle Childhood: Play Is Vital for a Child's Emotional and Cognitive Development but Social and Technological Forces Threaten the Kinds of Play Kids Need Most. Phi Delta Kappan. Vol. 90 (6): February 2009.

    Isenberg, J.P. Jalongo M.R. (2010) Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development: Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall

    Reed, T, and Brown, M. The Expression of Care in Rough and Tumble Play of Boys. Journal of Research in Childhood Education 15 (Fall-Winter 2000): 104-116.

    Singer, D. G. and Singer, J.L. Fantasy and Imagination. In Play from Birth to 12: Contexts, Perspectives, and Meanings, ed. Doris P. Fromberg and Doris Bergen, 371-378. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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