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:
- 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.
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.
- 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
- 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.