How Play Helps Children Grow


Play is essential to development. It contributes to the cognitive, social, physical and emotional well-being of children. Play also offers opportunities for parents to engage with their children. Play is a universal language, everyone can do it.  Here are some ways in which play supports development in four areas:

Physical Development

  • Gross motor play involves the large muscles. For example, those in the arms and legs, which get stronger as children run, hop and climb.
  • Fine motor play involves the use of smaller muscles. For example, fingers and toes become more controlled.

Social Development

Children relate to people in different ways at different stages:

  • Infants enjoy play with parents and the good feelings that it brings.
  • Toddlers are more likely to enjoy playing alone.
  • Preschool children like to play co-operatively with others their own age.

Mental Development


  • Through their senses – by tasting, smelling, seeing, feeling and hearing different things.
  • By figuring out problems (like where a puzzle piece goes)
  • By building or rearranging things

Emotional Development

  • Drawing, painting and music all encourage self-expression
  • Playing with dolls, stuffed animals, or carpenter tools may help them express anger or hurt
  • When children are encouraged to tell their own stories, paint their own picture, act out their own feelings, they are better able to hold onto their own hopes and dreams.

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