Children learn how to communicate, compromise, share, follow directions, follow rules, work with others, use proper language, and patience through play. Play helps develop children's motor, cognitive, and social skills. (Center on the Developing Child,2019) It can teach children gender role expectations. For example, Playing with dolls is the start of teaching little girls how to care for babies, while tool sets show little boys that it is their job to fix things. It assists parents in teaching children manners each time they say thank you, no thank you, please, or encourage the child to do so.
1# Have you ever noticed a child struggling to put a toy together or maybe a puzzle? They will have a confused look on their faces while trying to figure out what is the best course of action to take. Play helps a child's brain make connections (Sewell,2022). If the child figures it out independently, the child has just learned something new while also gaining patience and problem-solving skills. If the child does not figure it out, scaffolding would be the next best course of action. Parents giving hints, other options, or ideas to assist the child is called scaffolding. Instead of doing it for them, scaffolding allows the child to figure things out independently while building their confidence and helping them become independent.
The development of motor skills also happens through play. Play encourages running, jumping, climbing, pulling, and pushing, as well as doing things that encourage children to use their smaller muscles, such as fingers, hands, feet, necks, waist, and mouth. Parents should participate in play with their children so they can notice if there is an issue in their child's motor skill development. Physical therapy is usually needed to help children with motor skill issues.
2# Play is a crucial aspect of a child's development, serving as much more than just a form of entertainment. It plays a significant role in their cognitive, social, emotional, and physical growth. Through play, children explore their surroundings, experiment with ideas, and develop essential skills.
Firstly, play enhances cognitive development by promoting problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity (Bright Horizons, 2023). When children engage in imaginative or pretend play, they develop their ability to think abstractly, solve problems, and make decisions. They learn to think outside the box and develop flexible thinking patterns that aid in academic success later in life.
Secondly, play facilitates social and emotional development. During play, children interact with others, learn to take turns, negotiate, and resolve conflicts. They develop empathy and learn to understand the perspectives of others. Play also serves as a platform for emotional expression and self-regulation, allowing children to process and manage their feelings effectively.
Thirdly, play contributes to physical development. Active play, such as running, jumping, and climbing, helps in the development of gross motor skills, coordination, and strength. Fine motor skills are also honed through activities like drawing, building, or playing with small objects.
If a child does not learn how to play, they may face several potential outcomes. They may struggle with problem-solving, creativity, and decision-making skills. Socially, they may have difficulty interacting with peers, resolving conflicts, and understanding others' perspectives. Additionally, a lack of physical play can lead to decreased motor skills, coordination, and overall physical fitness.
As an adult, play remains important in my life. While the nature of play may change, the essence remains the same: engaging in activities for enjoyment, relaxation, and personal growth. Play allows me to de-stress, unleash creativity, and explore new interests. I integrate play into my life by pursuing hobbies, engaging in sports or games, and occasionally indulging in recreational activities with friends and family.
Question for the class: How do you believe play contributes to the overall development of a child, and what are some strategies you have seen or used to encourage play in children?
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