The Importance of Play in Child Development

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Child development is an important part of human growth. The term alludes to the various mental, emotional and physical changes that a child experiences overtime. The changes may be positive or negative depending on several related factors. Child development underlines various studies. Play is an integral part of the growth process. The element of play explains the various activities, which are undertaken by an individual in promoting their wellbeing and welfare. Such activities inspire joy and happiness. As an initiative, play facilitates the realization of various milestones in the development process. The component may affect areas of interaction and growth in the subject child. Given the indispensability of play in child development, Palaiologou (2016) calls for the integration of a play-based curriculum in learning centers. To reflect the need for play in a child’s development process, the current analysis seeks to examine the policies and literature around play, and the subsequent influences on developmental initiatives.

Computer Games and the Element of Creativity

Notably, computer and phone games enhance a child’s creativity. Such skill will play an important role in determining the child’s ability to solve problems in the future. By learning through play, children are allowed the freedom to think productively in overseeing the subject challenges. In reflecting on the immensity of play-based learning, Broadhead (2007) suggests that children’s creativity is reinforced when they are able to freely interact and reflect on ways by which relevant solutions can be inferred to generate optimal and positive outcomes in the learning process. The play scenarios expose children to different dilemma, which enhances their ability to respond to the immediate environment. Learning should be pegged on relevant concepts. The absence of practical consideration in the learning initiatives hinders a child’s ability to independently reflect on challenges. Chilvers (2012) suggests that play serves the purpose of facilitating a simultaneous growth in the learning and development platforms. Cognitive theories serve to convey the relevance of play in enhancing a child’s mental capacity (Schunk, 2012). The theories allude to the need for the creation of a balance between the physical and the mental. Vygotsky’s theory presents the most viable background framework to be used in justifying the element of play in technological gadgets such as the tablet. Play as a relevant intervention in the development of the child is shown to be a culmination of the need to enhance the subject’s ability to infer the concepts reflected in the learning process. The study Play and Creativity in Young Children’s Use of Apps reveals that the participant’s creativity was enhanced during the day as they were exposed to tablets (Marsh et al., 2018). In the platforms, the subject participants were able to access various games. The manifestation of creativity in the learning initiatives, evidenced by the student’s increased participation in the day, is a result of the various play experiences with the apps that are found in the tablet.

Locomotor Play and Physical Development

Locomotor play involving activities such as running and climbing facilitate the development of physical abilities. While other forms of play are crucial on the reinforcement of emotional and psychological wellbeing, locomotor play facilitates the realization of physical development (Forbes, 2008). Physical wellbeing is also crucial in the learning process as children learn through interactions. Locomotor play provides insight on the child’s developmental journey and can be used as a tool of assessment to evaluate the child’s ability (Robinson, 2008). In line with the need to promote interactions among children and their teachers, the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) theoretical framework advocates for the development of positive relations among students as a medium through which learning is promoted in the class settings (Department for Education 2017). EYFS is predicated on four principles, which also underline the play initiatives in the educational process. According to Smith and Pellegrini (2013), when children invest time and energy in play activities, they will be able to realize streamlined growth. Notably, the benefits may be short-term or long-term depending on the nature of the game and the investment committed in the initiative. The immensity of play in the developmental process was also reinforced by Pellegrini (2011) when he claimed that children who have limited access to physical activity may project redundancy in later learning processes. In the development of the child’s physical wellbeing, several policies have been instituted in the United Kingdom. The report Teaching and Play in the Early Years – a Balancing Act reveals that educational policies have shifted to embrace both teaching and play as crucial components of the learning process (Ofsted, 2015). Such revelation attests to the indispensability of physical play in completing the various activities that are undertaken in school settings. The current policies also recognize the teacher’s sacred role in defining the best learning interventions in school settings (Ofsted, 2015). Analysis in the report indicates that the defining of the schedule and timeline to be engaged by the teachers should be established collectively between the administration and the teachers involved in overseeing the specific learning and play duties.

Social Play, Integration and Interaction

Alternatively, the reinforcement of social play in early child education augments the affected children’s ability to interact positively and productively in their immediate communities. Enhancement of social coordination skills from the initiative is crucial to the development of a student’s learning and adoptive abilities (Smith and Pellegrini, 2013). Some of the relevant policies that reflect the need for the encouragement of social play in early childhood education include the Childcare Act 2006. The policy defines the distribution of resources in the learning environments to ensure that all children are provided with the optimal time and energy to integrate relevant concepts. Alternatively, the Children and Families Act of 2014 reveals the immensity of integration in the realization of efficient child development. Notably, social play is pegged on the need to enhance the quality of interactions that students have to their environment. In reflecting on the importance of play, Duffy (2006) argues that children are artists and should not be compelled to produce content that is merely a reflection of adult wishes. In line with principles of EYFS, social play reinforces the uniqueness of each child and promotes divergent learning outcomes through the provision of an active environment (Department for Education, 2017). From the intervention, children will be able to engage and define their social groups, which is crucial in the realization of communication skills such as listening and attention, understanding and speaking (Department for Education, 2017). Underlining the need for play in the execution of orders related to learning, highlights the role of policies in reinforcing efficiency. Play as a central part of a child’s development process involves the reinforcement of optimal skills and abilities that can be applied in enhancing the children’s ability to adopt to their environment. Thus, Robinson (2008) suggests that play enables the child to develop a sense of physical and emotional identity through interactions with the environment.


Conclusively, play is an important part of the learning process. In suggesting that play was integral to early childhood, studies convey the role of play in enhancing an individual’s cognitive abilities. Early childhood education demands the integration of the framework to promote the realization of all-round citizens to streamline production initiatives. To convey the indispensability of play, the current study relies on different types of play that include social play, locomotor play and gadget games play. Some of the theories that are relevant to the discourse include EYFS, and cognitive theory. Mainly, play and learning should be embraced as integral parts of the early child education.


Broadhead, P., 2006. Developing an understanding of young children's learning through play: the place of observation, interaction and reflection. British Educational Research Journal, 32(2), pp.191-207.

Chilvers, D., 2012. Playing to learn. London: ATL.

Department for Education, 2017. Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage: setting the standards for learning, development, and care for children from birth to five, pp. 1-37.

Duffy, B., 2006. Supporting creativity and imagination in the early years.

Berkshire, England: Open University Press.

Forbes, R., 2008. Beginning to play. Maidenhead: OUP.

Marsh, J., Plowman, L., Yamada‐Rice, D., Bishop, J., Lahmar, J. and Scott, F., 2018. Play and creativity in young children's use of apps. British Journal of Educational Technology, p.45.

Ofsted, L.O., 2015. Teaching and play in the early years –a balancing act? Committed to Clearer Communication, p.21

Palaiologou, J., 2016. The early years foundation stage: theory and practice. London: Sage Publications.

Pellegrini, A. D., 2009. The role of play in human development. Oxford, UK and New York: Oxford University Press.

Robinson, M., 2008. Child development from birth to eight. Berkshire, England: Open University Press.

Schunk, D.H., 2012. Learning theories an educational perspective sixth edition. London: Pearson.

Smith, P.K. and Pellegrini, A., 2008. Learning through play. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development, pp.1-6.

August 14, 2023


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