Play is what children wants to do and what they choose to do when given the freedom, independence, time and space to determine their own behaviour. All children have a natural desire to play and will therefore play anywhere they are given the opportunity. Children’s play can be happy or sad, loud or quiet, calm or chaotic, creative or destructive, sociable or isolated and imaginative or real. Sometimes play can be risky, other times it will be boisterous and a lot of the time it will just seem plain pointless. When playing children will be spontaneous and they may move rapidly from one type of play to another. Children’s play is unlike a lot of adult behaviour. It often lacks structure, the steps contained within it may seem illogical and random and it probably won’t have any obvious purpose or end goal. Play is freely chosen, personally directed and naturally motivated. It is critical to each and every child’s physical and emotional well-being and is central to a healthy child’s life.
By playing with their friends and interacting with a wide range of different people children develop their social skills and can build strong friendships, which leads to positive feelings of happiness and belonging.
When given the opportunity to play, children are more likely to be physically active by running, jumping, dancing, climbing, digging, lifting, pushing and pulling. Playing helps children’s muscles to develop and can help to keep them fit and healthy.
Through play children experience a wide range of emotions including excitement, frustration, determination, achievement, disappointment, confidence and upset, and through practice they can learn how to manage these.
Play is children’s way of experimenting with and exploring the world around them and as a result every experience children have while playing is of benefit to them.
Through imaginary and fantasy play, children can act out experiences they have had elsewhere in their lives and begin to understand how to address these. As children grow and develop they will move from individual play to group play. How an older child chooses to play may depend on how they feel at the moment or a personal liking. The way most children play usually varies from day to day and situation to situation. There are four basic forms of play:
Solitary Play; this is a type of play in which a child plays on his/her own without taking notice of other children or adults who may be around. Example; babies usually like to spend much of their time playing on their own. They are exploring all aspects of their environment from the sound of their own voice and the feel of their own body parts to those of others. They want to stare upon, grab, suck and rattle any object that comes their way. Older children at times will also prefer to play on their own. They may spend hours making up stories with their toys. They like to build, draw, paint, invent and explore by themselves. They hopefully will also like to read and even write on their own. Parallel Play; children move from playing alone to playing alongside other children without much interaction with each other. They may be engaged in similar activities or totally different activities but they like being around others their own age. Associative Play; children play this way when they are with other children. Each child plays according to his/her own play agenda and do not normally share a common play framework or negotiate common rules for play. They are able to share ideas and toys on social and problem solving skills. Co-operative Play; this is a group play where the children in the group make their own or establish their own rules and roles that each member of the group plays. Through interactive play they begin to learn social skills such as sharing and taking turns. They also develop the ability to collaborate on the “theme” of the play activity. The children not teachers or adults should institute play themes and structure. Physical Benefits and...
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