You asked

Is playing really that important to my young child?

The short answer is: definitely! When your child is playing, it might seem like fun to you, but there is a lot of serious learning going on. Your child is learning about science (objects that sink or float for instance), literacy in the form of stories or rhymes, and even mathematics, by discovering how many blocks can be stacked in a tower.

When people tell you that play is your child’s work, they’re not joking! There has been a lot of research into the link between play and working, and the discoveries of various studies have been interesting. For instance, it’s been shown that children who don’t have access to quality pretend play may struggle with problem solving, mathematics, science and in social areas later on.

Play allows children to explore their worlds, both mentally and physically. It offers them the opportunity to exercise choices. Play also gives your child an opportunity to practice their language and social skills, and it offers an endless outlet for their imagination – one of your child’s most powerful learning tools.

Children can try out adult roles when they play – either mimicking mummy when she’s cooking, or pretending to be an astronaut. It develops both gross and fine motor skills, and it helps them to train their muscles and bodies. In fact, if play is restricted, your child is more likely to become a couch potato, and struggle with health problems like obesity. Your child may even use play to work through complex emotions that he or she is as yet unable or unwilling to express.

As you can see, play has a profound impact on young children, their learning and development. There is, however, an even further dimension. When you and the other adults around your child engage in play with him or her, you automatically make your child feel loved and accepted. This helps them in the continued emotional and social development, and in forming relationships later on.

More questions

For many parents, child minders are the best child care option. Use this list to find out whether you’ve found the right one.
Finding quality childcare isn’t always easy, but it is possible if you know what to look for.
How your baby is looked after in childcare can have a long lasting impact on development, so it’s important to make informed choices.
Play is the single most important learning tool that young children have at their disposal.
Choosing the right child care is important to your child’s development – now and in future. Fortunately, there are some clear signs that the childcare you are considering is a good one.
The so called ‘formative’ years truly are one of the most important periods in any child’s development, and it’s important that parents and caregivers facilitate learning during this time.
Helping your child to learn during the early years sets him or her up for a lifetime of successful learning.
If you’re looking at several sessional preschools, and cannot come to a decision on a particular one, then looking at our checklist can help.
A play school or play group is a great choice if you want to prepare your child for formal schooling, and don’t need to have full day care.
A crèche is one of the better known child care options that offers full day services to a wide range of ages.

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