The role of play in early childhood is without question crucial to the successful development of children. It has been shown that children who have access to well-rounded, well-selected groups of toys can actually improve their emotional, social, physical and intellectual development. Play is as important to kids as work is to an adult building their career.
Toys when age appropriate or developmentally appropriate (since all children do not play and learn at the same speed) help a child grow sequentially. The knowledge a child gains from playing at an early age expands upon how he or she perceives the world for many years to come. The quality of a child’s early learning environment, which includes play, determines and directly affects a child’s reading, writing and language skills and all areas of intellectual development. This is why all the products you find in our shop at Parenting My Kids are hand picked with careful consideration.
A child can create their own successful play environment with very few toys. Give a child a few blocks, cars, pieces of paper, old fancy clothes from mom and dad, a doll or plush toy and some objects from nature and they can pretend they are almost anybody anywhere. Open-ended creative play is possible with just a few objects. Sometimes the opposite at a young age, having too many toys, is over-stimulating and overwhelming.
Imaginative play is one of the most important and creative parts of a child’s development. Interacting with other children or playing by oneself is a way for a child to act out a true-life situation or create fantasy experiences of their own. There are no rules, no rights or wrongs and no limitations as to the creativity of a child.
Play provides opportunities for exploration, experimentation and manipulation that are essential for constructing knowledge and contributes to the development of representational thought. At a young age a child starts to picture things in his/her mind and realizes his/her surroundings. A child starts using words to represent thoughts and objects. During play, children examine and refine their learning in light of feedback they receive from the environment and other people. It is through play that children develop their imagination and creativity.
Play starts when a baby makes silly noises and laughs, bangs pots, throws food, drops things off their high chair and stacks and knocks over cups. These beginning forms of play all are developmental steps that lead to more involved play patterns. During the primary grades, children’s play becomes more rule-oriented and promotes the development of autonomy and cooperation which contributes to many lessons needed to succeed later in life.
Perhaps the most beloved of play theories belongs to Maria Montessori who describes play as “sensory learning.” Maria Montessori’s theory revolves around play using a multi-sensory approach (hands on) enabling children to participate in creative exploration.
Through every stage and age, play is critical to personal growth and happiness! According to Scott G. Eberle Ph.D, editor of the American Journal of Play, “we don’t lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up.”
Play does not stop at 5, 7 or 10. Playful adults make wonderful parents!