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Sunday, 24 June 2012 22:13

All The World's A-Play, Part 1

“All The Worlds A-Play”, Part 1: Why Play?

By Janet Ringle-Bartels & Julie Windham

     Play. Although on the surface it seems to be a simple word, it has a strong impact on a child’s development.  A child’s play incorporates activities that motivate him or her; this is the whole idea behind development.
     Do you remember your childhood memories of playing for hours with your imagination?  Remember when you built stilts that allowed you to tower over your friends, those cardboard boxes that magically turned into your secret “hideouts,” the times that you dressed up and became the greatest super hero or when you sang for ever with that instrument you made? Children learn through exploration and discovery.  Play is a child’s “tool for learning” – a tool which hopefully is transported into adulthood.  An adult who played well as a child generally knows how to play (or relax and have fun) throughout their lives; they also tend to practice good team- and social-bonding skills.
     Play has so many aspects; it is pleasurable, spontaneous and requires involvement of others. Play also supports the child’s individual growth and sense of self as they discover and create in ways that are meaningful to them.  Play influences thinking and language development, influences social development, and influences physical and motor development.
     During play, children develop thinking by making choices, directing their activity, controlling the content and process of their play and problem solving any challenge that arises.  They also develop creativity as they pretend and imagine objects and situations as representing something completely different.  They plan and they reason, and these skills lead to higher-level thinking abilities; in turn, the words and the language to describe these new ideas grow and change.
     When a child plays, he or she is social and learns to share, to relate to others, and learns to consider others’ feelings, needs and their roles in life.  The child learns to take turns, to respond to social rules and to explore their own feelings in an emotionally safe environment.
     Play also influences motor development.  Practicing movements and movement patterns helps develop motor skills that become controlled, accurate and rapid.  The child gains mastery over how their body moves through space, how they can affect heir world, and how their eyes and hands can work together with smaller objects.
     Play is so much more than it appears on the surface, and so important for your child’s development.  

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