The Importance of Play

A child’s primary occupation is play.

Children use play to develop strength and coordination, sensory modulation, emotional regulation, and socialization skills that they need to engage with others. They build confidence, relationships, body awareness, and problem-solving skills through play.

Play helps the child understand the properties of the world around them. For example, when a child is “playing tea party,” the child is learning pouring skills that helps them at mealtime. They are learning techniques such as how much pressure they should apply when gripping a cup and how fast or slow to tip the cup to avoid spillage.

Moreover, when “playing tea party,” they learn the social skills of sharing food and conversation with another person.

They are learning problem-solving skills of what to do when the liquid spills out of the cup: self-regulate and find an appropriate solution, such as using a towel to wipe the spill.

They are working on their endurance with their attention skills, by sticking with one activity until completion.

This type of pretend play boosts brain structure and brain function, which sets them up for success now and later in life.

One of the best benefits to play is that it is FUN! It promotes learning, appropriate child development, and overall emotional well-being.

It can take many forms and is unique to each individual. Play can happen by themselves while building blocks, playing on sports team with friends, and pretend playing with a caregiver.

Here is a reminder that yes, play is important because it is productive; it is also important because it is a necessity of life to learn how to navigate this world to the best of our abilities!

References:

https://www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy/Patients-Clients/ChildrenAndYouth/Play.aspx

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/142/3/e20182058

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17200287/