The Importance of Play for Children
WHAT IS PLAY?
Play is freedom. It is the authentic way of the child. It is where the vital connection to learning occurs. Children learn best through play; it is where wonder, curiosity, new thinking, and rethinking occurs. For children and adults alike, play happens when we are engaged in something we choose and direct ourselves. It is where the whole being of a child comes to life. Play is a place of joy; not simply the kind that appears in the form of smiles and laughter but more deeply, play is a place where children are free to explore the world around them.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
When we think of play there are many words and phrases that come to mind. Some of these might include: wonder, exploration, and questioning. We might observe children trying out new ideas, making mistakes, adjusting for mistakes, persevering to solve a problem, building self-confidence, and taking risks. Play is where children explore relationships; between themselves and others, materials they choose, and the spaces in which they interact. Through play children make comparisons, develop new understandings, create their own theories, and grow holistically as human beings. It has been said that play is the work of the child.
PLAY HELPS NURTURE THE WELL-BEING OF CHILDREN
As social beings, connected emotionally and physically to our world, play nurtures us. Morally, spiritually, and intellectually, play ignites opportunities for new understandings. Through a connection to nature, play offers children the gifts of wonder and discovery; a place to ask questions and build connections to the natural world. In these ways, we can say that play is a critical part of the well-being and holistic development of the child.
THE PERFECTION OF PLAY
As a way to frame the holistic needs of children, I talk a great deal about the seven pillars of well-being. By nourishing each of these pillars in ways that align with the developmental needs of children, parents nourish a meaningful and engaged experience in life. When children feel connected to all that makes them whole, their human spirit can soar. As we know, it is through play that children come to know themselves, others, and the world around them, making play a perfect platform to empower children’s holistic well-being.
THE MAGIC OF PLAY
Through my work with children for over three decades and counting, I have observed some of the most magical moments one could wish for while in the presence of children. In terms of children’s growth, creativity, and innovative ideas that emerge from play, is often so profound that it leaves me in deep thought for days, months, and even years. Working alongside children, parents, and educators, I have watched the unfolding of deeply connected relationships emerging through play. It has been a blessing to have observed the freedom that play brings to children while watching the possibilities of play unfold.
I have listened to the wonder of children, pondered their questions alongside them, and embraced the profound depth of thinking that emerges through play. Through the years of sharing these moments with children, I have discovered the pure joy that play can offer. For it is through play that children find endless pathways upon which to wonder, question, communicate, think, and create. Play offers children endless possibilities to come to know themselves, others, and the world around them.
A QUINTESSENTIAL EXPERIENCE
More than any other form of learning, play is the quintessential experience that children need most. It is one of the most perfect ways for parents to nourish the whole being of children, and for children to do the same for themselves. It is necessary, therefore, that as parents, homeschoolers, and educators, we create conditions that support children’s play. Starting with our understanding and philosophy, we can nourish a culture of play that shines through the everyday moments we share with our children.
I welcome you to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Founder ~ Nurtured Inspirations
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[…] But another of my Twitter favourites, Susan Wright @nurture_inspire also came out with a blog on “play”: https://nurturedinspirations.com/the-importance-of-play-for-children/ […]
Thank you for this message and for sharing the importance of play with others, Ian! Your dedication to the well-being of children through play makes a difference in the world! ~Susan
This piece on ‘play’ sparked an idea in me for the direction or spirit of my next term,
as a virtual teacher. How can I introduce all the new technology platforms/mediums on which to learn the curriculum, but disguise it as play? Hmmmmmm.
Thank you for taking time to share what inspiration this blog post has given you! I look forward to hearing your play will inspire a new layer of exploration with the children sharing your online learning platform. Although the times we are sharing with children are, in some cases, not what we are used to, there are many possibilities living within the paradigm of play. When we seek ways to embrace play, the sparks of possibility are endless. Grateful for your visit to my site and for taking time to read my blog post!
Love the reminder of the importance of not structuring everything – especially play where kids get to explore making decisions (and mistakes) and learning from what they do. Play is the work of childhood!
Thank you for your feedback, Ian. I know you’re a huge advocate for unstructured play and supporting growth and learning! I appreciate your thoughts and your support! Loving your website and your blog ~ definitely exceptional and thought-provoking! https://technolandy.wordpress.com/