Importance of play in early childhood and how does it impact development

Importance of play in early childhood and how does it impact development

Play has been something children have been doing for thousand of years. It is something that comes naturally to them. Free and unstructured play has been passed down from generations and even in the most challenging of times across centuries, children have played.

However, of-late due to our hurried lifestyle, structured routine, increase in academic pressure and introduction of digital screens, children are playing lesser and lesser. Playgrounds are shrinking. A child’s day is packed with structured activities and classes, leaving them far less time to indulge in free and unstructured play.

Play is critical for kids - it is their only way of understanding the complex world around them at their pace. In fact, it is recognized by the human rights commission of UN as a basic Child’s right. Play is a form of expression for kids. Children use their creativity and imagination along with their cognitive, emotional and physical strength to play. It is through play that they explore, engage and learn the important skills to survive.

Benefits of Play and its impact:

The benefits of play on the development of a child in their early years are wide and far-reaching. Play impacts every area of a child’s development from physical to emotional to cognitive and social. Free play or unregulated and unstructured play is, when play is directed by the child based on their interests and imagination. It is play without interference from an adult or instructions on how to play. This kind of play impacts the overall development of a child and aids age-appropriate development.

Impact of play on:

Physical Development

  • Co-ordination
  • Balance
  • Dexterity
  • Stamina

Emotional Development               

  • Self-Expression
  • Self-esteem
  • Confidence
  • Curiosity
  • Self-Regulation

Social Development

  • Listening             
  • Negotiation
  • Decision Making
  • Empathy

 Cognitive Development

  • Thinking
  • Creativity
  • Imagination
  • Problem-Solving
  • Concentration
  • Resilience
  • Persistence

All of the above skills aid a child’s development and impact their ability to learn. Play equips them with the necessary life skills to succeed in life.

Encourage play

As parents, it is critical we provide the right environment and time for children to engage in play. Children need unscheduled times to explore and discover. Learning and development happen in kids through play and not just through classes and worksheets. Nurture and kindle their natural curiosity to engage in play.

Think of play as the most importance investment in raising the future world leaders of tomorrow. As Maria Montessori, one of the most revolutionary educators of our times said, PLAY IS THE WORK OF THE CHILD.

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