How Important Can Play Be?


If you are a parent who has never experienced stepping on lego before, first of all congrats! Second of all, men are always saying nothing hurts more than being kicked in the balls. However, I think stepping on lego is probably up there. If it wasn’t for the fact they are a good distraction when you want a moment’s peace, I’d advise never buying them!

Have you ever gone to clean the dishes to return to, let’s call it, an “art piece” on your newly decorated walls or brand new sofas? They call this play?! I thought play was supposed to be fun, it’s definitely not fun for me!

It may come as a comfort to know that play is in fact an extremely important factor that helps your child develop in many areas: physically, emotionally, socially and cognitively. I’d even go as far to say it helps parents build patience too (well, ish). Children are naturally motivated to play and it is important for healthy development. It also creates an opportunity for parents to engage with their children as well. Playing with your children can support the development of secure attachments, which has shown to have major effects for healthy brain development including the development of emotion regulation, forming emotional relationships, emotional resilience and showing empathy.

“In play a child is always above his average age, above his daily behavior; in play it is as though he were a head taller than himself. As in the focus of a magnifying glass, play contains all developmental tendencies in a condensed form; in play it is as though the child were trying to jump above the level of his normal behavior” – Lev Vygotsky

Due to lifestyle factors such as academic pressures and added responsibilities, it is becoming more common that children are spending less time participating in free play. With increased over-supervision and decreased amounts of free play, negative effects of children developing less independence skills and creativity may develop. Play gives your child the opportunity to make sense of their world and the environment around them.

“Children explore and pretend as a way of engaging with the world. More importantly, play everywhere is an enculturing process – that is, a means through which children learn about their cultures” – Tina Hyder

Additional Info

According to Dr. Karyn Purvis: it takes around 12 repetitions to create a synapse in the brain with play and over 400 repetitions to create a synapse without! As frustrating as it may be to watch the mess that can be created in a space of 30 seconds, they are learning every second and their brains are thriving.

Play – engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose​Emotional resilience – an individual’s ability to adapt in stressful situations. It does not eliminate stress but allows for individuals to overcome problems and live through hardship.

Synapse -junction between two neurons or nerve cells where there is a small gap that neurotransmitters help nerve impulses to cross.

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