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By zagidigbogidi Mar 12, 2014 1640 Words
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 Development

It is widely accepted that children get stronger, healthier bodies when they engage in activities that is having them working on their muscles, heart and lungs - their whole body. Running, biking, jumping, swimming, kicking, climbing, are a few activities that promote physical fitness. The physical benefits of play are several. Fine and Gross Motor Skills; Fine and gross motor skills are developed and improved through recreational involvement. As a child at play learns to reach, crawl, walk, run, climb, jump, throw, catch and balance, gross motor skills are developed and maintained. Fine motor skills are developed through the use of hands and fingers to handle and manipulate toys. Example; when children do activities like stacking, building, drawing, colouring, painting, fixing puzzles etc. It also gives children a sense of accomplishment and empowers them with control of their environment. Children who are comfortable manipulating objects and materials also become good at manipulating words, ideas and concepts. Strength, flexibility, coordination; through the repetition of basic physical skills in play, children perfect their abilities and become competent in increasingly difficult physical tasks. Example when a child repeatedly climbs up and down the slide when playing, it helps the child go up and down stairs with much ease and confidence. The rough and tumble of active play aids children's physical development. Hand-eye coordination is also improved through play, as well as the development of strong, agile muscles. Emotional Benefits and Development;

Engaging in play helps children to gain self-confidence and increase self-esteem. When the child has fun and enjoyment in their playtime, they will 'feel good' about themselves and what they're doing. There are many ways through which play can produce these benefits that will stay with them throughout their lives. A child's self-confidence and self-esteem are enhanced through play when they are able to play to satisfaction. This achievement through play will enable the child to appraise his or her own strengths and abilities, and as a result the child will develop self-confidence, and a sense of accomplishment. Play allows for a healthier, more socially acceptable way of expressing one's feelings and opinions. Children are able to express negative emotions through play which will in turn reduce aggression. Expressing feelings through play will allow a child to work through their problems, rather than internalizing them. Play provides great pleasure, joy, and freedom. Through play children will learn to embrace humor and laughter. Mental Benefits and Development

As part of a successful play experience, children must be alert, engaged, and focused on the activity in order to be rewarded with the experience they hope for and expect. Lots of decisions and choices are made throughout the experience - "Which piece of the puzzle goes in THIS space?" "Do I pass the ball, or keep it?" "Do I go biking today, or play with slides" and, on an even more basic level "Am I interested in this activity, or would I rather do something else?" Play stimulates minds, and allows the child to develop many functional skills as a result. Develop Problem Solving Skills;

Through the expression of preference over what activity to play or which toy to play with; children learn to develop decision making skills. Play helps children recognize the need to prioritize as they are unable to play with every toy at the same time, which in turn teaches children to compromise and share. Making choices give children a sense of independence, as they discover that they can solve the problems they are faced with by themselves. In play, children discriminate between colours, shape, and sizes. Social Benefits and Development

Children learn to initiate, sustain, and terminate social interactions through play. Through these communications, children will also have the opportunity to develop and improve their communication skills, including the acquisition of alternative means of communication. Children learn to follow directions, take turns, abide by the agreed upon rules (co-operative play), and other important social-problem solving skills. Making choices helps children to identify their personal preferences. Children will learn to accept feedback from others, and equally as important, play will foster the ability to ask for, and accept the help of others the social skills learned through play, are foundational to successful relationships and interactions that a child engages in not only now, but throughout his or her life. Develop Problem Solving Skills; through the expression of preference over what activity to play or which toy to play with; children learn to develop decision making skills. Play helps children recognize the need to prioritize as they are unable to play with every toy at the same time, which in turn teaches children to compromise and share. Making choices give children a sense of independence, as they discover that they can solve the problems they are faced with by themselves.

In Summary
Play is unique and vital in every child developmental life because it produces benefits that span multiple functional areas including: physical, emotional, mental, and social. For example, during play, it is easy to observe pure joy, hear the genuine laughter, and observe genuine friendships coming from not only from our children, but also others that we see at play. Play is a child’s right and is the essence of childhood. Playing is what being a child all is about. Play is a child’s work and children learn through play. Almost all adults will have happy memories of playing as a child and those that do not will have been disadvantaged because of it. Adults who play alongside with children must constantly be sensitive with them and allow the children choose their own play and set their own agenda. If we value our children and see them as equal citizens then we must uphold their right to play.

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