Role of play in development of a child

A.) Introduction-

Play is very important factor in every child’s life; playing is a natural tendency of every child. Then even if that child is construction worker’s child and playing in a mud or even if the child is from Builder’s house, playing in his or her own room with many imported toys, need of play is the same in both.

A new born baby spends his or her most of the time in sleeping, but later especially from 5th months of life babies’ start responding others. This is the time when babies take enjoyment in small things. These small things only become play for these children. At every step in child development types of play, and responses to others keeps changing. Playing becomes vital factor in child’s daily routine in preschool years. Playing gives very enjoyable and cherishing experience. Playing doesn’t have any end especially at this age and children just play to create fun and enjoyment. Play is very effective medium in teaching also. Now we all know that play way method turns out very effective and interesting method in teaching new concepts to children, this is not only for young children but for elder children too.

B.)What is play?-

Play is considered so important by child development experts that huge books of research studies have been published about it. “Any activity which gives pure enjoyment can be called as Play.” For example – kids spread toys all over the room and again keep in a basket. This action they are doing not as a work but they feel enjoyment in the activity so it can also be called as a play. Sometimes they throw toys in a basket sometimes they bang toys on each other; they repeatedly do this activity since it is play for them. Here Playing is not a pressure on children that is why play is self-motivated action.

C.) Parts of play

We can divide play in two parts-
1. Active play-In this type of play, child him or herself actively play something. Here action for play is done by a child For example A. Running, Jumping. B. colouring, clay modelling. C. Ball throwing and catching.
2. Passive Play-In this type of play child does not participate in any play physically, but whenever he watches other’s playing he enjoys it. For example- A. watching other children playing. B. watching games on Television or mobile Phones or laptops. C. reading about different games or toys or playthings in newspapers and magazines.

D.)Difference between work and play-

When child actively participate and play something, action happens, but that is not a work, because work and play are two very different things-
1. For play there is no end, but for work there is certain end.
2. Play activities entertain children, but in work fulfilling goal is main thing.
3. Play always happens willingly, but work can be done willingly or unwillingly, this means some work can be done happily by people but some work can be done under pressure.
4. Sometimes play can turn into work. For example- suppose a person is playing as a part of his work and trying to fulfill some goals through it. Then here work changes in to play.
5. Fun play does not have specific rules or laws. But work has to pass through certain rules. When there are specific rules for play, then objective behind play changes from entertain to goal satisfactory action.
So now we can see that how work and play is different and that is also for person to person. Every person’s perspective matters in it. If parents want their child to clean his or her room then they can change this work into play activity. Like, you keep all red toys in one basket, and yellow in another.

E.) Importance/values of play-

When we talk about child development, we need to focus on overall development, which covers all aspects of child development. Play takes very important place in this developmental process. Let’s see Values or Importance of play in this process-
1. Physical and motor value- Care taker should make sure that child will get ample opportunities which gives chance to use physical and motor skills like walking, running, climbing, jumping, balancing etc. Adults should provide age appropriate equipment for such activities on daily basis to child. This will surely help child to grow as a strong adult, since these activities will support in physical growth and development. Along with this, children should get exposure to indoor activities, which support fine motor skills, like cutting with scissors, drawing, beading, using thread and needle, colouring, playing with blocks etc. these all are pre-writing or readiness activities and all are very important for strength of fine motor skills and eye hand coordination and plays important role for preparing child for formal reading and writing skills.
2. Psychological and educational value– psychological development includes thinking capacity, imagination, memory, plus language development. To promote and encourage all these skills Play is very important. There are variety of activities which supports psychological and educational development in children. To promote language development songs, rhymes, stories, puzzles, word riddles, these activities helps a lot, since these activities mainly uses language. That is why adults can use language games, grammar games, picture talk to encourage child. Along with this, readiness mental activities,( like use of all 5 senses, colour knowledge, join the pieces and complete the picture puzzle ) also helps in developing attention span and concentration.
3. Therapeutic value- when children play different types of activities or games, they use their excess energy, plus if children have any behavioural problems , play help to resolve it, since many emotions get outlet through variety of play. Play helps in reducing aggression in children. For example when children play in doll’s corner, they talk to dolls ,sometimes beat them, sometimes scold them, this way they expresses their different emotions in acceptable way, and they does not have to suppress feelings. Suppressed feelings can come out improper way, like biting, hurting others or self. Play helps children to bring out all these feelings in proper way. It is called Catharsis (socially acceptable way or through play, expressing, or getting outlet to feelings and getting encouragement to physical work strength is called Catharsis)
4. Emotional value- As we mentioned above, play gives ample opportunity for emotional outlet, thus play helps in emotional development, since developing emotions means expressing it in socially acceptable way. Through play child learns to express in more mature way, even those feelings are negative like –jealousy, anger, fear etc. Rather children learn many good feelings through play like –love, acceptance, care etc. (example of play activities for emotional development are- role play, doll house play, storytelling etc.)
5. Social value– Play is very important medium in social development, because it gives chance to know each other, cooperation, sharing, plus through play children can learn leadership skills. Play teaches children to learn socially acceptable behaviour, so that they can enter in group and make their space in group. Two to three year old children shows very self- centric view, they cannot understand others side but as they grow they socialize more and understand that each one has their own views. Play helps in learning this view in day cares, preschools, on playgrounds etc.
6. Moral value– there are certain rules and regulations for games and play activities, if child learns to follow it, then only he or she will get social acceptance. Each social group has their own culture and rules. To learn this thing, play is wonderful medium. Child needs to learn what is right and wrong, what is good and bad, what is acceptable and unacceptable , all these values, conscience , children can start learning through different play activities from childhood till they grow in responsible adult. (Examples of play activities to teach moral values- role plays, dramatization, acting etc.)

F.) Different stages of play-

As child grows, he/she passes through different stages, same apples to Play too. There are different stages in play, these are as follows-
Stage 1- child is in audience role- when child is very young like 6 months, 8 months up to 1 year he /she just observes others playing, at that time child moves hands , legs and responds to others’ actions. But very few times child involves physically in the play activity, at this time baby forces adults to repeat same actions. Here baby uses its observation, so we can say this stage is observer stage for child.
Stage 2- child plays alone- when child enters in 1 and half to two years, he or she plays alone. Clapping or repeatedly saying one word, these are things they do. The play activities they decide themselves and give name to objects and they like to play repeatedly with their favourite objects. They try to imitate others. Games they like to play at this stage are Peek-a-boo, hiding, or with balls.
Stage 3– child plays parallel play- at this stage(2 to 3 years), children observes others playing and he or she will play with similar way, in this stage they observe plus imitate others and play alone. For example – one boy is playing with toy car in one room, another boy see him playing and will take another car and play with it , they might not talk to each other , but still play same activity. That is why this stage is called parallel play.
Stage 4- child relates and play-here children relate things to its origin and play, here fantasy enters in their play. Here too they imitate a lot. Plus use their dramatization skills for example – girls plays mothers role and boy plays fathers role in their dramatization.
Stage 5- child plays cooperative play- children starts playing in group at around 4 to 5 years onwards. Somebody becomes leader, and others follow him or her. Here they learn to apply all valuable social, emotional skills while playing, like cooperation, sharing, understanding others etc.
While child is on each above described developmental stage, parents and care takers role is very important to keep good examples in front of them. If good support, guidance, and ideals are in front of them, they will grow in to socially acceptable adults. We will see later in detail about adult’s role in child’s play.

G.) Different types of play

There are many different types of play and each has some speciality. These all types are totally depends and changes according to child’s age, psychological and physical development.
1. Free play or sensorimotor play-Here child plays as per his wish, and he/she shows active participation. Child plays only when he wishes to play and plays until he gets fun and enjoyment from that activity. Ones he feels bore he stops playing it. Child receives encouragement from his surrounding and from new play toys. This kind of play starts from as early as 4 to 5 months of age up to 2 years. Here children handle many toys and explore it by throwing, banging, breaking etc. they try to learn from it, main advantage of it is developmental exposure to 5 senses. Here they put toys n their mouth, smells it, listen the sound through banging… Etc.
Advantages of free play- 1. Children get chance to handle different types of objects. 2. They learn from each object and that is also by self learning method. 3. Children get exposure for sensory motor skills and observation skills. 4. Children learns that how to entertain themselves.
2. Dramatic play-It is also called ‘Make Believe Play’. Or children make incidents themselves (like imitating father and going to office in play) and play accordingly. Here they talk with their toys Or create incidents themselves and play. There are two types of dramatic play but in both types we can see children’s active participation-
1. Imitation- here children play day to day experiences in their life. They use their toys, dolls, soft toys and they take lead role and play. For example- 1 and half -2 years kid becomes Doctor that time he uses his dolls and soft toys as his patients.
2. Creative dramatization-here children create incidents or stories for play from their previous experiences and dramatize it. In this type children dramatize incidents with their friends instead of toys. For example – when 4 -5 years old child plays Doctor- Doctor, their friends becomes patients not toys.
As child’s intellectual development increases they prefer second type of dramatic play where they get more exposure in imagining and creating new stories for play. Dramatic play starts at around two years of child’s development. First they imitate to elder sibling or parent. Let’s see one example- two year old girl uses her toy tray and cups to serve tea to elder at home, here she is imitating her mother. Later as her intellectual development happens as per age, her dramatization becomes more detail and complex. For example first she is just carrying her doll with her, later she will give routine to her doll liking feeding her milk, bathing etc.
Advantages of dramatic play-1. This type of play gives boost in social and language development plus gives outlet to emotions. 2. Children learn new language skills 3. Give encouragement to observation.
3. Constructive play– here children use some objects to create something. They enjoy making new things. Whatever objects they get or they find around they uses it for their creation. Here also observation and imitation of adults are two important keys initially. 4 -5 years old children use seeds stones, flowers or blocks to make any shape without deciding about it. But little elder children (5 to 7 years) decide shapes first and then make it. Here they use their intellectual skills. That is why care taker should provide different objects like sand, beads, wooden blocks, seeds, feathers, leaves, cloth pieces etc to children to encourage their constructive skills.
Advantages of constructive play- 1. It encourages mental skills. 2. It encourages creativity. 3. It helps n development in fine motor skills.
4. Creative play– this play starts in preschool age. Children create something new from provided material like sand, clay, beads, scissors, paper etc. For example- Children make house with sand, cuts paper n different shapes with scissors, they shows interest in drawing and colouring pictures, especially in preschool age starting. And at the end of preschool age more kid scribbles on paper and stops there, three year old kid gives names to that picture, and four year old kid describes his or her picture, since he expects acceptance and appreciation from adults for his creation. And if we suggest anything to 6 years old kid he/she next time uses that instructions, they try to make their work perfect and try to maintain the quality of creation.
Here are few important types of creative play
1. drawing- this is the best medium to express feeling of child. Very small children mostly draw symbolic pictures, not the exact one , just similar to their imagination.
2. Colouring or painting- kids at first, holds brush or crayon in palms or fist but later with development of fine motor of fingers they learn to hold it in fingers. While using crayons first children use single colour to scribble, but then they try to use different colours. They show creativity in it.
3. clay or sand play- initially children pat, roll clay, later they starts making different shapes and at around 5 to 6 years they make their own new objects from clay.
4. collage- this is wonderful activity to express and develop creativity. We can provide different seeds, leaves, cut-outs, flowers. Children can create their own designs.
Advantages of creative play- 1. Encourages creativity in children. 2. Helps in intellectual development. 3. Promotes fine motor skills development. 4. Develops eye-hand coordination in children.

H.)Education using play way method-

We all know that from very beginning our education system believe on formal, classroom education. But many researchers found out how much children truly gain from this kind of education system. Especially age and maturity level of preschool children is not suitable for formal classroom education and forceful writing activities. Instead we need to develop liking for education in them. Practical, first-hand experiences always help children learn better, faster and very enjoyable way. Play is the key for this kind of method. For example- when child plays with plastic, colourful blocks, he/she gets knowledge about colour, shapes, texture etc, and that is also with child’s active participation.
Play way method keeps child in center, and always think about child’s needs, likings, and abilities. Play is natural thing for children, as they express their emotions through it, plus their awareness for surrounding world boost education, which is why it covers all aspects of development. Children can develop observation, experimenting, problem-solving and creativity through play plus it helps them in development of physical, language, and social aspects. If we use play way method, children enjoys learning plus they look forward to coming to school, develops their gross and fine motor skills, which helps them in formal education, means their developed motor skills help them to learn (read, write, understand) in speed, help them in holding pencil, pen properly while writing, help them in learning difference between letter and pronunciation. Ultimately it helps in their personality development. If we force children to read and write in early age when they are not ready for it, it will affect their attitude toward education plus they can get hand, fingers, headaches, fatigued eyes, back ache etc. preschool age is readiness time, so we can prepare children through variety of play in this time.
When we use play for education – 1. Give real, practical, concrete experiences first and then teach abstract concepts 2. First show known concepts and then take slowly to unknown ones. 3. First teach easy things and then slowly take to difficult things.
For this- first hand experiences, variety of toys, books, stories, pictures, puppets etc. helps a lot. Some activity suggestions for this- 1. Informal conversations/ discussions. 2. Making and telling stories. 3. Dramatization of songs, stories or puppet shows. 4. Singing rhymes 5. Action songs. 6. Free play-beading, building blocks. 7. Outdoor activities. 8. Sand or water play or group activities. 9. Intellectual and language games. 10. Field trips or educational tours like nature walk etc.
I.)Specialties of Play-
Following are specialties of play-
1. Children learn play with imitation- children learn to play different methods or games from elder siblings, peer group.
2. Every child follows certain direction in play- As child’s attention span increases, and peer group friends increases, maturity increases child’s play pattern changes according to it.
3. Play becomes social as per child’s age- at first child plays self-centered games, and that is why play is not socialize, but growing age children prefer playing with others.
4. As child grows, his friend choice become fix in Play-small children doesn’t show preferences for playmates, but as per age ( especially after 5 years) they select their friends and show preferences for these playmates only.
5. As per age, Play shows gender differences- young children play all type of toys, for example – boys also play in doll house and cooking, but as they grow their game selection shows gender effect.
6. Play always moves from informal to formal – initially children like free play, but later they like constructive play.
7. As per age growth, Active play lessens- As child grow he prefers inactive games (passive play) like reading, watching TV, watching others playing, playing cards and carom board.

J.) How to recognize child’s personality through play-

This sounds funny but yes we can able to understand children more by just observing their playing style. Even if all children play similar toys their playing style explains us their personality. Here are the 4 prominent styles. We can see combination of these styles in each child, some styles can be observed more prominently while others might be less –
1. Maintaining style child- these children really enjoys being alone to do his or her own thing. They show mastery at entertaining themselves and enjoy activities like stamp collecting, crossword puzzles, and card games. They prefer activities that are quieter and less active. An excess of toys and games isn’t going to make them that happy. They need fewer, but more complicated, intricate toys to open their mind and their understanding of the world. When playing with other children, they can appear a bit controlling if things aren’t done according to the rules.
2. The harmonizer style- these children have strong interpersonal skills and get along well with others. Playtime is especially fun time for them. It means time to move freely, dance, talk, and connect with other kids. They are certainly not interested in solo hobbies or quiet time alone. They love being busy. They really like to have all their favourite toys around them at all times. Talking is very important to them. Toys that work for them could be stuffed animals, dolls, board games etc.
3. The innovator style- these children like to draw and play games with strong visual and spatial aspects. They like puzzles and mazes. They like running around outside, playing hide-and –seek etc. some enjoys playing chess. They will love reading books. They have incredible ability to absorb information and understanding on an intuitive level. Because they are charismatic and like to have a good time, they attract friends. But they like to play practical jokes, have mega-active fun, and don’t want to be around who is dull and bosses them.
4. The Prioritizer style- They need physical exercise because it is one of the few ways they actually release their stress and relax. They enjoy large muscle activities like running races, playing tag, and hide and seek because they require skill, stamina, and desire to win. They also enjoy intellectual games. These children aren’t typical playmates, since they are intensely competitive.

K.) How to select toys and games for children-

Care taker should ask these questions before selecting appropriate play material for child-1. Are there toys that the child can manipulate to improve eye-hand coordination, stacking or nesting objects, building toys, blocks, toys with movable parts, creative materials that can be used in a variety of ways?
2. Are playthings interesting without overwhelming the child with detail?
3. Are there toys that require the child to be an active rather than passive participant?
Researchers have found that stimulating playthings are more important for cognitive development after age one than in earlier months. Availability of interesting and challenging play materials in children’s homes after the first year correlates with later IQ and school achievement and math. Play things start to become important at about six months of age, but elaborate and expensive toys are not necessarily the best. Let them manipulate, interact, and figure out what the object is. When there is only one ‘right way’ to play, opportunities for experimentation and new discovery are limited. Common household objects, tools, cooking utensils are fascinating for children.
As child grows we, as care taker can provide them 2 main types of toys or activities – 1. Indoor activities- a. using mostly hands- wooden puzzles, water play, sand play, beading etc. b. Constructive – plastic and wooden blocks, small play bricks etc. c. Imaginary play- dolls, doctor set, old clothes, cooking utensils (safe for children only), old purses, toy cars etc. d. Homemade toys- flashcards, domino, picture cards, charts, puppets, flannel sets for stories, picture puzzles etc.
2. Outdoor activities-1. Games for climbing, balancing, swinging, cycling, jungle gyms etc. 2. Small and big balls, old tyres, rings for throw, catch, kicking, pushing etc.3. Sand tray with many moulds, and house hold utensils.
For teen age and adolescent children, we need different criteria for games and activities. For this age generation electronics devices has become main entertainment source. Now we can see that video game, variety of TV channels, many different movies, and many new game apps on mobile phones has taken place of many traditional games and activities. We can find many educational, quality programs on these appliances. We have to accept this change, but surely control the use of these all electronic gadgets, by making rules and inculcating good, healthy habits in children, and by setting good example in front of children. We have to teach them that physical activities are also equally important in day to day life.

L.) Adult’s or care taker’s role in child’s play-

Many parents wonder about the best way to guide a child’s play, especially young children. Research confirms common sense- get down on the floor and get involved when you have time to be patient, and let the child be learner. Here are some guidelines-
1. Make sure that child is actively interested and involved.
2. If child is really busy in any play activity, adult should not disturb it by suggesting or interfering it.
3. If adults are too involved in a game, they should take supporters role, let children decide. If child asks then only provide help or guidance.
4. If there is any new activity or toy or game, initially show the use or rules to child first time.
5. Never provide expensive toys to child, just because he/she is asking for it.
6. Try to avoid scolding, or physical punishments for breaking the toy. Set rules about time and use of any toy, game or activity. Try playing family games together for some time, so they will also understand that together time spending is more fun than playing alone.
7. Give the child positive encouragement for active exploration and investigation which builds motor and sensory pathways. Childproof home for safety. Encourage attempts at new challenges.
8. Provide toys and games that encourage a variety of types of play which the child must create himself, praise and admire innovative uses of play construction or game materials.
9. Provide low open shelves where variety of toys, objects, and books are always accessible. Avoid boxes with jumbled toys.
10. Call attention to specific objects or aspects of environment, like leaves, birds etc. Get in the habit of linking language to sensory input. Language is the means by which the brain develops its ability to act as control center for thinking, learning and planning.
11. Playtime should be relaxed and pressure-free. Constructive play usually begins only after a child feels familiar and comfortable in setting. Activities should not be switched too often as long as the children are satisfied.
12. the best play materials suggest imaginative uses rather than being too literal- materials for building a ‘pretend’ house , for example, rather than ne already fitted out with perfect furniture and accessories, lengths of fabric rather than costumes , large empty boxes, etc. Fantasy play with others gets children to enlarge their mental frameworks, get outside their own minds, and practice using language.
13. Children use play to gain important feelings of mastery and control or deal with issues that may be troubling them. Adults should intervene only when necessary to preserve emotional or physical safety.
14. Rule- governed games are fun for adults and children and promote many kinds of learning, but they should not be substitute for exploratory and pretend play.
15. Children playing together often make up their ‘own’ rules which may seem incomprehensible to an adult. As long as the children are satisfied, adults should stand aside.
16. Dramatic play teaches social skills more effectively than any type of instruction.
17. Pretense activities (Imaginative intellectual play) are often used by a child to firm up new understanding about the world, good environment encourages child and respects the quality of child’s emerging thought.

M.) Conclusion-

We saw that how much play is important in each child’s life, no matter of his social-economic background. We can’t relate play only with expensive toys and games stuff. It is more of quality time, child’s interests, and caretaker’s creativity in providing variety of material to explore. Each play activity takes child in another level of learning, all type of learning and that is also with very enjoyable and interesting way. All children need their own play time from 5 months old baby to 18 years old young adult, whether it is active or passive play. And last but not least- play teaches child self-learning.
“The best training any parent can give a child is to train the child to train himself.”- A.P. Gouthey.
“You can’t teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.”-Galileo Galilei. , http://www.rit.edu

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