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The Value of Childrens Play

Kiara Maldonado

Fresno Pacific University


The Value of Childrens Play

When you hear the word play the thoughts of fun and no learning may come to mind.

However, childrens play within the educational setting is very important and useful. Play helps

further development in the areas of creativity, social-emotional development, cognitive

development, and physical development. Children at a young age are able to engage and interact

in the world around them through play. When given this opportunity children are able to explore,

practice role-playing with other children, and given the opportunity to face any fears (Ginsburg,

2007). Which later helps enhance their confidence and ability to face future challenges

(Ginsburg, 2007). Undirected play also allows the children the opportunity to learn how to work

in groups, share, negotiate, resolve conflicts, and the chance to learn self-advocacy skills

(Ginsburg, 2007). Therefore, play within the educational setting in early childhood education

needs to be implemented as children gain proper development in the different areas mentioned

above in an interactive fun way rather than expecting learning to occur just in seated time.

Play helps ensure that the school setting attends to social-emotional and cognitive

development. Elias (2006) stated, It has been shown to help children adjust to the school setting

and even to enhance childrens learning readiness, learning behaviors, and problem-solving

skills. Social-emotional learning is best integrated with academic learning; it is concerning if

some of the forces that enhance childrens ability to learn are elevated at the expense of others.

Play and unscheduled time that allow for peer interactions are important components of social-

emotional learning. As children increase their social competence and emotional maturity

through play in the educational setting they are practicing both verbal and nonverbal

communication skills by negotiating roles, trying to gain access to ongoing play, and the

opportunity to take into consideration other peers feelings. They are able to take other feelings

into consideration by given the chance to take turns and sharing materials. They are also given

the opportunity to experience the social aspect of play by receiving view points of others by

working through conflicts about things like space, materials, and rules (Elias, 2006). Play

supports emotional development by providing different ways for children to express and cope

with feelings. For example, theorist Eric Eriksons theory explains how play allows children to

cope with their feelings, which is done through different emotions, such as, being sad or angry in

a situation that they are in control of (Mooney, 2013). They are able to model this through

pretend play, as pretend play allows children to think out loud and express pleasant and

unpleasant feelings.

Play also contributes to childrens fine and gross motor development. As children are

actively moving through play motor development is occurring, for example, playing with play

dough and building blocks allows the childs fine motor skills to strengthen. Imaginative play

also supports the development of motor skills, such as, manipulating fastenings on dress up

clothes, pressing telephone buttons, and coordination in pretend cooking are all ways imaginative

play supports physical development. The inclusion of arts and sports is also very important when

it comes to physical development. A child sitting in a classroom for hours at a time is not

promoting many opportunities for physical development to occur. Research has shown that

physical activity in young children can enhance concentration, motivation, learning, and well-

being (Ginsburg, 2007).

Play also provides cognitive development to occur. As play is a natural way young

children learn it is a fun and effective way for them to cognitively grow. In my experience in the

field of early childhood education children tend to act like little scientist. They are always

curious when it comes to how things work and they get the best experience and knowledge by

learning how things work hands on. During play children are solving problems, creating,

experimenting, thinking and learning through a variety of ways of play. Mooney (2013) stated,

Vygotsky was interested in the role of social interaction on cognitive development and argued

that development first takes place socially. That is, children observe parental behavior, listen to

parents' speech, and then try to imitate them. As children practice through imitation, parents will

guide children, correct them, and provide challenges. Through child-centered play, children take

on different roles and try out different language uses, all of which help them on the journey from

being externally regulated to internally regulated in cognition. Through play, children become

more competent in their language use and begin to regulate their own thought processes.

In conclusion, the information provided above shows how play helps further development

in the areas of creativity, social-emotional development, cognitive development, and physical

development. Most people may look at play as a negative; however, play in fact gives children

the opportunity to develop in the proper areas in an inviting natural way of learning.


Elias, M. J., & Arnold, H. (2006). The educators guide to emotional intelligence and academic

achievement: social-emotional learning in the classroom. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.

Ginsburg, K. R. (2007, January 01). The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child

Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds. Retrieved August 08, 2017,


Mooney, C. G. (2013). Theories of childhood: an introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson,

Piaget, and Vygotsky. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.