The importance of play to children’s learning and development

Play forms an essential part of every child’s life and is vital for children’s health and physical development. It’s also one of the main ways children can learn and develop skills from a young age and there is increasing evidence to support this. It nurtures a sense of imagination and adventure, whilst giving them the freedom to explore the world around them. 

This sense of freedom is evident with the common description of play being ‘what children and young people do when they are not being told what to do by adults.’ Here at Little Angels, we are extremely passionate about this topic, so we have put together a guide to the benefits and the importance of play to children’s learning and development. 

  • Physical development

Physical play involves activities that use physical movements and can help develop children’s gross and motor skills such as walking, kicking or skipping. A study by the American School of Pediatrics has found that play can increase physical activity levels in children and is a key strategy in the resolution of the obesity epidemic. 

According to a study by children’s movement specialist Pica, there are many health benefits of physical play including aerobic endurance, muscle growth, strength and coordination. Outdoor play offers the chance to release their energy and discover different environments such as playgrounds. So, taking your children to the playground is one of the most beneficial activities you can do! 

  • Social and emotional development

Emotional development through play may not be as easily identifiable, however, it’s one of the most important benefits. Free play can help children understand their feelings in themselves and others and how to control their emotions. A study by Andrade determined that play helps children develop emotional regulation and empathy to others. 

One of the things children enjoy most about play is the chance to play with their friends or meet new peers. However, there are some real benefits to the social interactions they make when playing at nursery or in the playground. Research by Shafer identified that by playing with others, children can learn social cues, and how to listen and share ideas. 

  • Cognitive development

Play can also have a huge impact on a child’s cognitive development with a variety of experts agreeing that play is essential for brain development. According to leading child development theorist Jean Piaget, the role of play is integral to the development of intelligence in children. He suggested that as the child gets older, play should be used to encourage further cognitive and language development.

Research by the LEGO foundation found that playing with objects can be highly beneficial for children. From around 18-24 months, toddlers can start to arrange and classify objects and by the age of 4, they can start to build and construct. Meanwhile, playing games can be a great way of encouraging children to understand rules and develop their problem-solving ability. 

Little Angels 24/7

At Little Angels, we value the importance of play for your child’s learning and development. Along with activities such as cooking and reading, we encourage children to explore and socialise through play. We have a specially designed messy play area and facilitate outdoor play, so the children can have fun and learn at the same time! 

If you’re interested in finding more then do not hesitate to get in touch or book a tour with us.