Benefits of Play for Child Development
Dear readers, what games did you play as a child? Some of the adults we interviewed recall hide and seek, wars, rubber band jumping, building a house, a tag, and a red all-terrain vehicle. Without the influence of phones and computer games, children of past generations were busy creating imaginary worlds using their toys, building forts, putting on plays, or dressing-up.
But what about modern children? What are their gaming opportunities today?
Unfortunately, children don't have enough playtime these days, and the lifelong implications for children's development can be more severe than many think. More and more, parents are realizing the shortcomings of a generation that has too little time to play.
And today in our article we will analyze the importance of play as an activity, the types of different play activities, and the side effects of not playing for children. Read to the end to know more about the benefits of play and what type of engagement, toys, and activities do children really need.
The most important types of plays for child development
Play is a fundamental part of learning and allows children to try to emulate adults and learn new skills. Play actively engages a child’s mind and develops creativity and imagination. Given below is a list of major types of play important for babies, toddlers, and Preschoolers.
Unoccupied Play (Birth-3 Months)
At this stage, the baby is just making a lot of movements with their arms, legs, hands, feet, etc. They are learning about and discovering how their body moves.
Recommended toys: child-friendly household objects, Infantino Textured Multi-Ball Sets, children Stroller, and Travel Activity Toys.
Activities: Singing, rocking, tummy time, or playing with brightly colored rattles are all appropriate activities that can help with important developmental skills.
Solitary Play (Birth-2 Years)
This is the stage when children play with toys on their own and do not notice or concern themselves with other children or what they are doing. Play at this phase involves exploring the world through their senses and includes looking, touching, grasping, and tasting. They’re also developing motor skills and spatial awareness; showing increased awareness and understanding of how their body fits and interacts with its surroundings.
Recommended toys: toddler-safe books, especially interactive ones like “Dear Zoo” or “From Head to Toe”, a cardboard box, different open-ended, limitless toys, play kitchens, train sets, and other imaginative toys.
Spectator/Onlooker Behavior (2 Years)
During this stage, a child begins to watch other children playing but does not play with them. So much of this play stage is inactive, but it’s still significant. The ability to play with other children is crucial to getting along in school and beyond.
- Show baby what you like to do, whether it’s gardening, playing an instrument, or puzzles.
- Take baby to the local park and let them watch children play in the sandbox even if they do not want to leave you to join in. It’s the perfect enclosed area for a younger child to observe others and see how they play.
- If your child has siblings, encourage them to watch the older one’s movements. While children under age 3 generally don’t understand the concept of sharing, they can still start learning how to be a playmate to your older kid later on.
Parallel Play (2+ Years)
When a child plays alongside or near others but does not play with them this stage is referred to as parallel play. Learning to play is learning how to relate to others. In that sense, parallel play is that final stage before your child connects with another.
Recommended toys: stacking and sorting blocks, sticker books, tunnels or low climbers with soft materials.
Activities: Encourage social activities that bring children together or playing together but separately with building blocks or musical instruments to help them see the value of making friends and participating in collaborative efforts.
Associate Play (3-4 Years)
When a child starts to interact with others during play, but there is not a large amount of interaction at this stage. A child might be doing an activity related to the children around him, but might not actually be interacting with another child. For example, children might all be playing on the same piece of playground equipment but all doing different things like climbing, swinging, etc.
Recommended toys/activities: Playing dress-up, using the same playground equipment, or sharing a play kitchen are good examples of associative play activities; each child has their own focus but might be talking to each other and using the same toys to carry that out.
Cooperative Play (4+ years)
Here we can see the beginning of teamwork. When a child plays together with others and has an interest in both the activity and other children involved in playing they are participating in cooperative play.
In terms of play goals, this is the final developmental stage, because it’s the same basic principle whether you’re doing a school project, putting on a play, or playing a sport. Interacting, socializing, and communicating sets the stage for social success throughout life.
Recommended Games: Treasure Hunt, Puzzles, Team Games, Board Games.
Play starts when we are babies, but it does not stop there! Including play in your child’s daily routine and giving them time to play is important for their development at every age. These stages are general guidelines for what to expect of your child’s play skills, but if you want specific suggestions, check the activities on our resource.
Here at Hadigro, we maintain a balance of play activities, academic enrichment, and organized activities for children with different temperaments and social, emotional, intellectual, and environmental needs.
Side effects of not playing
Psychological research from Boston College has shown that for over 40 years, children's free time has been steadily decreasing, preventing them from growing into self-confident adults. This lack of play affects emotional development, leading to the rise of anxiety, depression, and problems of attention and self-control.
Play provides critical life experiences without which young children cannot develop into confident and competent adults. Our article is intended to serve as a wake-up call regarding the consequences of insufficient play activity, and we believe that the lack of various creative playtime for children is a huge problem of our time that needs to be solved.
The loss of play leads to the rise of anxiety and depression among children who are involved continuously in emotionally stressful activities instead of free playtime. We’d like parents to understand the vital role that playtime and creative activities can take in the development of emotionally healthy children.
It’s never too late to reconsider the priorities that govern the lives of children and return to the direction of creative, imaginative, kid-directed playing activity. We are always here to assist you in this process.
A word from Hadigro
Play is a cherished part of childhood that offers children important developmental benefits. The play also gives parents the opportunity to fully engage with their children. However, the influence of modern computing and television has reduced the ability of many children to enjoy the fruits of play.
Here at Hadigro, we strive to create an optimal environment for the development of children, promoting the healthy development of children, and maintaining strong bonds between parents and children.
Choose activities from our website so that all the valuable benefits of balanced playtime will develop your children' creativity and imagination. Join us and let your children have fun!