Many people today, wonder if it is necessaryfor children to play during their early years. Play very much impacts the developmentof young children, as it helps develop not only their cognitive skills, but alltheir other skills such as, social and emotional skills, physical skills, grossmotor skills, fine motor skills, and communication and language skills.Research shows that these skills are crucial in the early development of achild, as children will continue to develop these skills throughout theirentire lifetime. Research also showsthat children’s play in the early years is required in order for individuals toachieve their maximum development. Therefore, it is necessary for all childrento play, so that they can properly develop the skills required for becomingknowledgeable individuals. Playing is one of the most important things you can do withyour child, because play is essential for your child’s brain development.
Thetime you spend playing together gives your child lots of different ways andtimes to learn. Play is an essential part of every child’s life and is vitalfor the enjoyment of childhood as well as social, emotional, intellectual andphysical development. Having time and space to play gives the children theopportunity to meet and socialize with their friends, it keeps them physicallyactive, and it allows them to have some control over what they choose to do andnot do. Themost important role that play can have is to help children to be active, makechoices and practice actions to mastery. They should have experience with awide variety of content (art, music, language, science, math, social relations)because each is important for the development of a complex and integratedbrain.
Play that links sensori-motor, cognitive, and social-emotionalexperiences provide an ideal setting from brain development. Children’s playtime has steadilydecreased due to limited access to play spaces, changes in the way children areexpected to spend their time, parent concerns for safety, and digital mediause. Play based learning and natural play aresimilar topics associated with children and their development. Play basedlearning is one method that involves children to play with their surroundingsand is used to both teach children important skills and to help further developthose skills.
Natural play is a form of play which children naturally perform,they don’t need to be taught, it is something they are born with. All childrenare naturally born with a playful personality. Play based learning fits intothe idea of natural play by allowing children the opportunity to play freelyand not being instructed to play with a certain toy, person, or play a certaingame. Any child can learn skills from an object or person they are playingwith. Recent studies have proven that children who are given the opportunity tonaturally play with what they want to play with, will be better behaved thanthose children who are not given as much of an opportunity. The children whoare allowed to play naturally will also better develop essential skills, ratherthan the children who are not given the opportunity. Even though there is so much researchsupporting play based learning and free play for children, there are still somany children who didn’t and still don’t have enough opportunities to play.When children aren’t given enough opportunities to play there are manynoticeable consequences.
Play deprivation causes both physical andpsychological consequences, consequences such as; inhibited brain development,behavioral instability, and lower academic scoring. David Elkind states in his”Can We Play?”; A 2007 report fromthe AmericanAcademy of Pediatricsdocuments that play promotes not only behavioraldevelopment but brain growth as well. The University of North Carolina’s Abecedarian Early Child Intervention program found thatchildren who received an enriched, play-oriented parenting and early childhoodprogram had significantly higher IQ’s at age five than did a comparable groupof children who were not in the program (105 vs.
85 points). (Elkind, 2008) Lower IQ levels can be connected to a lack of problem solvingabilities which can be connected back to the lack of opportunity to play.Children will learn cause and effect relationships, how to manipulate objects,and develop critical thinking skills.
Problem solving is to provide childrenwith a mechanism for making good choices about how to respond or act and reactin various situations. When it comes to problem solving, it requires time,patience, energy and skill and these skills can all be learned through play. Notonly are children developing the neurological foundations that will enableproblem solving, language and creativity, they are also learning while they areplaying. They are learning how to relate to others, how to calibrate theirmuscles and bodies and how to think in abstract terms. Through their playchildren learn how to learn.
What is acquired through play is not specificinformation but a general mind set towards solving problems that includes bothabstraction and combinatorial flexibility where children string bits ofbehavior together to form novel solutions to problems requiring therestructuring of thought or action. A child who is not being stimulated, bybeing played with, and who has few opportunities to explore his or hersurroundings, may fail to link up fully those neural connections and pathwayswhich will be needed for later learning.Another consequence of play deprivationis a lower mental state, research supports that when children aren’t givenenough opportunities to play at a young age they are more vulnerable to developmental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. When children aren’t engagedin free play they are not receiving the life experience which later in lifegives them the confidence to become competent adults. Free play is all about choices and control,young children don’t have much control over their life decisions, which makesfree play that much more important.
Allowing children to make their choices andtake control over that aspect of their loves can help them later in life. Esther Entin states in her article “All Workand No Play: Why Your Kids Are More Anxious, Depressed” Anxiety and depressionoften occur when an individual feels a lack of control over his or her ownlife. “Those who believe that they master their own fate are much less likelyto become anxious or depressed than those who believe that they are victims ofcircumstances beyond their control.” (Entin 2011) Anxiety is often related to a sense of control; anxiety canbe caused by a lack of a sense of control in one or more areas of life. Thislack of control can cause a powerless feeling in the face offears and worries.The lack of a sense of control can leave us feeling anxious, worried, orfearful when we don’t think we should be.
Therefore, it is necessary for children toplay; play based learning fits into the idea of natural play by allowingchildren the opportunity to play freely and not be instructed to play with acertain toy, person, or play a certain game; and ECE’s support children’s playexperiences by giving children an appropriate balance between alone time,social interaction time, and activity time. All of these factors will ensureproper development of children.