The Value of Play

I have always been a big believer in the value "Play" has in the development of children.  This has fueled my interest in Play Therapy, Sand-Tray Therapy, and Art Therapy.  Why do I feel so strongly that Play is an integral part of a child's development?

1. Play helps children learn to problem solve. Play provides many opportunities for children to learn how to solve problems.  It provides opportunities for negotiating roles in dramatic play.  It promotes analytical thinking - for example figuring out where to place the lever and ball when they play "hot hoops", or if playing "Don't break the Ice", learning where and how hard they should hit the ice blocks.

2. Play helps children learn to discriminate, to sort, to classify, and to learn what is alike and what is different. As children play with different materials or manipulate toys, they learn to discern texture, size, shape, color, and other qualities.

3. Play increases creative thinking.  Children naturally play pretend games and use their imagination to make ordinary objects represent things in their fantasy world.  This is the foundation for later understanding and use of abstract symbols, such as letters and numbers.

4. Play promotes social-emotional growth.  Play provides opportunities to practice the social skills of communicating, understanding another's point of view, taking turns, sharing, and following rules.  Through play, children can relax, have fun, and develop self-confidence.

5. Play helps children express their feelings and ideas.  Play offers children opportunities to safely explore and express their feelings and ideas in a safe manner.  It also provides opportunities to be able to see and explore other's feelings and ideas or "play expressions".

6. Children's physical, emotional, fine motor, and gross motor movement is greatly enhanced through play. Children learn how to use and control their bodies through play by developing different eye hand motor skills.  Play also encourages self-regulation of their body - and learning to control their actions.

How empowering is that?