Play is a fundamental part of the lives of all children, and this activity can have a significant impact on cognitive and social development. According to research, learning play is one-way young children understand about the world around them. It is a vital component of social, emotional, and physical development.
Playing is fun and enjoyable. However, it can be a lot of things. From dramatic play to board games to hide-and-seek, playing helps children learn about the world and themselves. Children use their imaginations in play to think about how something might happen or how they might fix a problem. They also explore issues such as fairness and sharing by pretending to be someone else or something else.
Through play, children develop essential cognitive skills. They learn to carry out purposeful actions, think about what will happen before they do something, and how the world around them works. Through play, children also learn many essential social skills such as taking turns and cooperating with others, and how they can make friends and have conversations.
What is Meaningful Play?
Meaningful play is when children play in ways that are fun and engaging. It helps children understand the world around them, develop language and social skills, and understand themselves. Meaningful play involves making sense of things and exploring how those things work.
For example, a child might pretend to be a train and go around the house or play with a doll and make it talk. Or they may play doctor in their family and pretend to be a new patient. Children make up stories about how the world works and develop their own ideas about how to fix problems.
When children learn through play, they can learn a lot of essential skills and knowledge. They can explore their world, understand others’ points of view, and make friends because they can talk with them about what they are doing. Children who play often develop language and social skills that allow them to communicate with others. Children who play often learn from their mistakes or the things that happen in their play experiences and try again.
What are the benefits of children engaging in play?
Playful children learn about how the world works by making up their own stories, exploring their thoughts and feelings, and giving themselves as much control as possible. Playful children learn to take turns, share resources equally, and have fun while playing. That is why play is vital in children’s development: it helps them learn how to be helpful, kind, cooperative members of society. It also helps them develop language and social skills that allow them to communicate with others.
Children can learn a lot of these valuable skills and abilities through imaginative play. Children can pretend to be someone or something else and then practice the behaviors that go along with that part. They can do it over and over again until they get it right. They feel good about themselves because they can do those things that increase their confidence in their abilities. They learn that they can take a chance to have fun and enjoy themselves, and that helps them develop these crucial skills.
How does play improves children’s social skills?
In the play, children use language difficult to describe as either factual or imaginative (e.g., the magic words in fantasy play). They refer to actions, facts, and ideas of both kinds together in the same conversation. Through this process of cross intentionality, they create a new meaning that has not previously existed. Children not only learn to express complex ideas but also begin to understand others who do the same. The child who can put together an illogical, fantastical sentence can also understand a social interaction that makes no sense to the rest of us.
Play also helps young children learn how to communicate their feelings and needs in a non-threatening way. It allows children to practice expressing what they think, feel, want, or need through play. Children learn how to express themselves and how to ask for what they want. They may not be able to say the words “Please give me the toy” or “I’m cold,” but they can take action and voice these feelings through pretend play. By overcoming their fear of being wrong, children can also overcome their fears of making mistakes.
It allows children to practice their social skills in a safe environment where they are encouraged and supported. Socially, play helps children learn to interact with others and develop trust and relationships. Physically, play allows children to engage in physical activity and sports that help them learn about their bodies and build motor skills. Emotionally, play allows for personal expression through imaginative play that helps children learn empathy and self-expression.
How can you help your child learn through play?
Play can be found everywhere, even in the most unexpected places. A phone call from a parent can be an opportunity to act out a role play. An empty tissue box can be a sailboat or a rocket ship. Playdates can be about more than socializing and making new friends. A trip to the grocery store might become an opportunity for your child to practice shopping, pushing the shopping cart, reading labels, and counting change. You can look for opportunities to turn everyday situations into playful activities.
As a parent, you can create a life where play is an integral part of your child’s daily routine. You can let your child keep a journal, play music with you, sing with you, or recite stories together. On the weekends, let your child have fun and explore in the yard or inside the house.
You can give them the tools they need to work through complex challenges. For example, let your child know that they can take their turn and ask for help. Or help them learn how to be good listeners by giving them a role-playing scenario and encouraging them to use the words they might use in the real world. You can teach them how to be good friends through role-play and imaginary play.
Play is central to children’s development. It helps them learn how to make sense of the world around them, develop language and social skills, and understand themselves. Playful children can learn a lot of these valuable skills and abilities through imaginative play. Meaningful play involves making sense of things and exploring how those things work. Children make up stories about how the world works and develop their own ideas about how to fix problems.
Baby Steps is a preschool and daycare in Queens, New York; they offer a wide range of services for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. We specialize in helping children grow and develop during the crucial years from birth onwards. We offer a warm, nurturing atmosphere to help children become secure and confident in a unique way to each child.