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The importance of play in children’s learning and development

Learning through play is one of the most significant ways little kids learn and develop.

How does play helps your child’s development and learning?

Physical development – active play using large and small muscles such as climbing, running, ball games, digging, jumping, and dancing. This supports children’s overall health and sense of wellbeing, physical growth, appreciation for the benefits of active lifestyles and skills for independence in self-help such as dressing or feeding.

Social and emotional development – dramatic and imaginative play which includes dressing up and role play can develop positive social and emotional skills and values. This provides opportunities for children to:

  • practise how to work with other children, negotiate ideas, and make choices and decisions
  • develop self-confidence by experiencing success and challenges
  • learn to control their emotions, reduce impulsive behaviour, or reduce stress as they act out feelings and events that might be worrying them
  • develop empathy and fairness as they learn to play alongside and with other children.

Cognitive development – when your child plays individually and with others their cognitive skills, such as thinking, remembering, learning and paying attention are all being developed. Children develop the following cognitive skills through play:

  • problem solving
  • the power of imagination and creativity
  • concepts such as shapes, colours, measurement, counting and letter recognition
  • strengths such as concentration, persistence and resilience.

Literacy and numeracy development – play requires thinking, language, interactions, curiosity and exploration. Through play children develop skills and understandings including:

  • an increased understanding of words and their use
  • listening and speaking skills
  • writing skills through scribbling, painting and drawing
  • learning how stories work (plot, characters, structure, purpose and format of words on a page)
  • learning that objects can stand for something else (a block can be a symbol for a telephone) which is foundation learning for formal reading, spelling and numeracy because letters, words or numerals are part of symbol systems
  • learning that letters, words, symbols, numerals and signs have a purpose and are meaningful to others.

At Wiggles and Giggles Childcare Centre, Wentworthville We offer a wide choice of play-based, physically active learning experiences that link to the children’s interests, abilities, identity and present knowledge.

Call us on (02) 9631 0244 if you have any questions/concerns.

(Source: Starting Blocks – Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority)