Play for Change believes that play is crucial to the development of a happy and healthy individual. But it’s not only us who believe this, there is increasing evidence to show that play is fundamental to a child’s development. Here are ten reasons why play is so important:
1. It’s not just physical. Play increases children’s self-awareness, self-esteem and self-respect. In an increasingly pressurised and connected world, it gives them the chance to discover who they really are.
2. It’s physical. It improves and maintains their physical health, leading to increased strength, fitness and better health in later life.
3. It’s social. Play gives children the opportunity to mix and engage with other children, preparing them for the adult world of complex social interactions.
4. It’s skilful. Play paves the way for increased confidence through the learning of new skills.
5. It’s creative. Play is creative, it encourages children to use their imaginations, as well as promoting independent thinking.
6. It increases resilience. Play teaches children to be competitive, to learn from failure and encourages them to take risks.
7. It breaks down barriers. Play allows children from all backgrounds and abilities to play together.
8. It’s cohesive. Playing in their community allows children to learn about their social and natural environments, and be a part of the wider community, promoting social cohesion.
9. It’s educational. From their very early years, children learn through unstructured play. The Montessori and Steiner school systems and the Forest school ethos all encourage the use of play as an education tool in and of itself.
10. It encourages communication. Children learn to communicate with each other through playful interactions. This allows them to practise the complex and subtle world of adult communication in a safe and organic way.
We can help make a positive impact on children’s development by aiding unstructured play. This will promote social cohesion and self-preparation for the complex world of interaction that awaits them. So children not only acquire the physical health benefits of change, but also the psychological benefits that will pave the way to a child’s brighter future.
Written by Poppy Pickles in collaboration with Aaron Jay-Chelliah