Importance of Play in Children’s learning

Importance of Play in Children’s learning

Play as a Tool for Learning

            Play is crucial in children’s life as it help them not only in learning but also in development of different life skills including social, physical, intellectual and emotional (Stroh,  Robinson & Proctor, 2008). Children mostly play using toy. The toys are not only fun for children but they also act as important tools in helping the children to learn about their surrounding and themselves. It also promotes a healthy growth and development.  During playing children gain problem solving and interpersonal skills, which enable them in their interactions with others (Stansfield, 2008).  Moreover, playing help children in development of gross and fine skills which are crucial for learning and growing. Some of the major areas that play assist children in learning and development include developing physical skills.  As children learn to grasp toys, they are able to gain gross motor skills. The same way, the handling of toy helps children in developing fine motor skills. These skills enhance the way children learn.
            Play also assists children to learn how to solve problems. Children are also able to learn a number of things including numbers, size, shapes and colors (Shen, 2008). This in turn helps children to get the ability to improve their attention duration as well as memory skills. As children advance in age they move from playing in simple environment to those that are more stimulating. This allows them to move to higher level of thought. Additionally, play helps children in developing language skills especially if the children are playing and interacting with other children.  Some of the games that children play have set rules that should be followed. Playing such, games enable children in development of social skills. The social skills include negotiation and corporation skills. As children grow and develop, they keep on playing sophisticated play that enable to learn some of the rules in the society.

Role of Adult in Play

Adults have a role to play in children’s play (Khine, 2011). Adults especially parents and teachers should act as children playmates. When adult play together with the children they encourage them to be even more creative and more specifically when adult play alongside children. For this reason, it is important for adult to not only provide children with playing toys and supervising them but should also take an active role by playing with them.  Other ways through which adults may join children play include observing them as they play. A teacher who closely observes children as they play may be able to identify some of the things that the children can comfortably do and those that they cannot.  They can also be in a position to tell some of the activities that the children like doing.

Another important way that adults can join in children’s play is following. They need to act as children playmate as this makes the children know that there are people who have interest in what they are doing.  However, as much as adult try to follow children while they are playing, it is important to let them feel that they are in control. Being creative can also enable adults to join in children play. Being creative for an adult may entail using the child toy differently. This will make playing not only fun for the child but also for the adult.

Besides acting as children playmate, adults can play other roles in children play. They can be the one to choose props and toys that stimulate children interests and abilities. Adults can be the one to match the skills of the child with their maturity. Adults also need to ensure the safety of the children while they play. They can do this by ensuring that they provide children with toys that are safe for them. Safety can also be ensured by closely supervising children as they play. Storing the toys correctly and maintaining them also helps in assuring safety for children as they play.

Social or Cultural teaching and learning

            Although every child can learn through playing, it is important to note that different children learn from play differently depending on their culture.  In other words, the way a child learns from play is influenced by factors like practices, values and beliefs that are found in the places where the child come from. Play act as an influencer as well as a mirror of the way that culture influences learning of different children.   For Western culture play may not have a specific goal, a child must not learn anything, is enjoyable and should be voluntary.  However, for other culture play should involve emotional aspect incorporated into them and in most cases are based on reality. An example of people who have such a form of play are the Yucatec Mayans where children learn about the community through play (Rogoff, 2011). Children in this community do not use imaginary situations in their play but instead use real life situations that are pre scripted (Goncu, 2006). The pre-scripted situations should be a reflection of the real life of the community. The community does not segregate the children by their ages but allow children from different ages to play together.

Different cultures have different ways of encouraging their children to play. In some cultures the adults are fully involved in children’s play while in other adults may not be part of the play. Moreover, in some cultures children be given toys to play with while in others children do not need toys. However, it is important for different culture to ensure that play is allow children to learn the different aspects of the community. The play activities that children are involved in should form a platform that support past as well as new learning for children at varying level of difficulty as they grow as suggested by Lev Vygotsky in his theory of Zone of Proximal Development.  Children should also be allowed to interact and collaborate with other children as this helps them to be transformed in their thinking.


            Parent should encourage their children to play from an early age in order to enhance their learning. They should encourage them to play by buying them toys and props depending on their age. They should also act as playmates of their children from while they are young. It is important that parent realize that play is a crucial part for the learning process and so that parents who prevent their children from playing should stop. Parents should in fact ensure that their children get ample time to play either alone or with their age mates. Further, it is important for the parents to try and get involved in their children’s play. This way parent will be in a position to identify their children’s ability, interests and weaknesses.



Goncu, A. (2006). Play and Development. New Jersey: Laurance Erlbraum Associates,Inc..

Khine, M. S. (2011). Playful Teaching, Learning Games: New Tools for Digital Classrooms.                     New York: Springer Science & Business Media.

Shen. M. (2008). Teaching and Learning through Play: A case Study of Taiwanese Kindargaten    Teacher’s Perceptions and Implementation of Play in a School Setting. London:          ProQuest.

Stansfield, M. (2008).  Proceedings of the 2nd European Conference on Game Based Learning.     New York: Academic Conferences Limited.

Stroh, K., Robinson, T. & Proctor, A. (2008). Every Child Can Learn: Using Learning Tools and             Play to Help Children with Developmental Delay. London: SAGE Publishers

Rogoff, B. (2011). Developing Destinies: A Mayan Midwife and Town. Cambridge: Oxford          University Press.

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