The Importance of Play: Educational Toys Make a Difference
By Nicole Munoz
Playtime is one of the most vital parts of childhood development.
Research has proven that all areas of development are enhanced
through a child's play activities. Healthy growth and development is
stimulated through play as early as birth and on into the school age
years. Children play in a variety of ways with a number of different
toys. Each activity has a different affect on development.
Newborns and infants enjoy a social play style that builds their
trust as they prepare to explore the rest of the world. Babies
interact with their parents and caregivers as they learn to bond
with people and develop a basic understanding of emotions. Social
games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake are common play activities for
older babies and toddlers.
As young children grow, playtime is the biggest contributor to the
healthy development of large muscles. Crawling, walking, and running
all develop gross motor skills. Preschool and school age children
develop socially, emotionally, cognitively, and physically through
outside play. Childhood games of tag, Red Rover, and hide and seek
are great activities to encourage healthy development.
The most beneficial play is initiated by the child. During free play
is when most learning takes place in young children. A child's
natural curiosity leads him to explore possibilities and test each
one. A child playing with blocks will begin to stack them. Through
this simple activity, the child is learning basic problem solving
skills while discovering the effects of gravity and exploring sizes
The earliest forms of play in childhood are functional play. A child
will use an object for the same purpose over and over again. Through
this repetition the child gains confidence in his abilities which
will encourage him to do new things. Filling a bucket with sand and
then dumping it out and filling it again is an example of functional
play. During this type of play, children typically strengthen fine
and/or gross motor skills as well as logic thinking.
Constructive play is common in preschool age children. A child
playing constructively will create something through his play. This
would include things like playing with blocks, doing art, or staging
a puppet show. Galt's line of giant floor puzzles will initiate
hours of constructive play to develop cognitive thinking, problem
solving skills, and creativity. Group constructive play encourages
team work and healthy social emotional development as well.
Pretend play is a very important part of healthy development. Most
children pretend and role play from their preschool years through
early elementary school. This type of play has a number of benefits
to the growth and development of a child. Pretend play helps
children process the things they see and hear each day. It invited
children to be creative and to expand their imaginations. Playing
make-believe strengthens language skills and aids in proper social
Children gain a strong foundation for learning through play.
Playtime is fun. Young children love to explore and discover new
things about the world around them and about themselves. Solitary
play fosters independent thinking and problem solving while group
play encourages cooperation and understanding. For healthy growth
and development, children should spend most of their days in free
play. Allow your child to play his way and encourage him to solve
problems during playtime.
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