Play is one of the largest opportunities for youth to develop physically, mentally, and socially. There are a variety of different ways for youth to “play” such as through a school, out at a park or playground, participating in a sport or structured activity, or just exploring something new. Play develops the physical body by testing the different limits children have and strengthening the body allowing for it to grow. It also develops the mind for developing skills and motor controls, conquering fears, and producing stimulation or excitement. Play develops social traits of how to play by themselves/play with others. This creates a social interaction and, with proper guidance, the opportunity to learn social norms and proper ways to interact.
8 Reasons Play is Important from the National Literacy Trust
- Play lays the foundation of literacy: They learn many skills from sounds, imagination, and movement.
- Play is learning: It provides a child’s instinct to explore, learn, and try new things.
- Play encourages adults to interact/communicate with childre: Play with supervision allows for parents to determine when and when not to intervene during play to help with social interactions
- Play allows children to be spontaneous: They learn through trying something new and how it works.
- Play gives children choices: Variety helps a child with decision making and trying new things
- Play gives children space: Space to explore on their own, try new physical actions, and test their limits
- Play allows adults to learn their child’s body language: Every child is unique; play is a chance to bring out their child’s natural body language for how they interact by themselves and others.
- Play is fun: Learning to play well by themselves and others sets children up to be happy and sociable.
There are a variety of ways for children to play whether structured or free play. Both allow for certain benefits such as social traits, physical development, decision making skills, and most of all growth and learning. Giving youth the opportunities to explore and grow on their own is crucial for their personal development.