Play Is Serious Business For Children's
Too many parents consider play as simply a means of diverting and
distracting their children. Playthings are often seen as a means
of keeping children happy, rewarding them, keeping them out of
mischief, and giving parents free time.
Not often enough do parents think of play and toys as fundamental
aspects of a child's education, as a means through which children
learn to understand the world around them, and as the primary
method by which children acquire many basic skills.
Parents can help make their children's play stimulating by doing
First, they can adopt an attitude of conscious, deliberate
planning in which play is regarded as one of the most important
aspects of their children's environment.
Second, they can see to it that their children are provided with
the kinds of toys and playthings that will help develop the widest
possible varieties of skills and abilities.
Third, they can assume a direct, participating role in their
Planning a child's play does not mean planning each activity for
every moment of the child's playtime. On the contrary, children
should have maximum independence in choosing their own activities.
And, within the limits of the daily routine of the home, a child
should also choose the time for their activities, as well as the
duration of each. Good planning makes sure that play is as varied
and stimulating as possible.
A child should play at different times, with friends, with
parents, and by their selves. This play should include, within a
period of about a month, all or most of the following types of
activities, each geared to the age level of the child.
Here are 5 of them:
Games are perhaps the most basic of all forms of play. From
peek-a-boo to chess, from pat-a-cake to baseball, games occupy a
central role in the lives of most children from infancy to
adolescence. Games may be physical or mental. In general they
involve the development of skills, although some lead to the
acquisition of information.
#2. Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts give children many opportunities to express their
desire to make things. Crayons, paints, clay, construction paper,
scissors and paste, wood, leather, felt, and cardboard are among
the materials that help children develop their creative
imaginative, and aesthetic abilities. Arts and crafts also develop
skills in manipulation, perception, and analysis.
#3. Construction Play
Construction play involves assembling objects from what are
usually prefabricated parts. It is less creative than arts and
crafts, but is also useful in developing many skills. Putting
together a set of railroad tracks and trains is a form of
construction play, as is play with erector sets, Tinker toys,
blocks and the like.
#4. Projective Play
Projective play is play in which a child adds dramatic and
emotional meaning to activities with representative toys—dolls,
trucks, soldiers, homemaking sets, and doctor kits. Its great
value lies in the role playing done by the child rather than in
the development of specific skills.
Hobbies which cannot be otherwise classified will generally fall
under the heading of collecting activities. Collecting stamps,
coins, rocks and minerals, butterflies and insects, sea shells,
and leaves are all common and popular hobbies. While some help in
the development of certain skills, their greatest value is in the
considerable knowledge a child can acquire in pursuing them.
Most play can be classified in one of these five groups, and,
ideally, play should include all of these types. Also, as skills
develop, the activities should move to a higher, more mature
However, a child does not automatically vary his play or develop
in it. This is where the parent's planning comes in - continually
making the child aware of the broad opportunities available to him
in play; initiating certain activities during playtime; making
suggestions when the child needs and wants them; buying toys that
will, in themselves, lead to new pursuits; stimulating new
interests and ideas in any of a variety of ways. The parent should
not manage the child's play, but should try to nudge it in the
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