The importance of play focuses on the informal play which is considered a critical activity for the child. Below we will explore the importance of play in general during the critical early and later childhood phases.
Stimulation Through Movement and Play
The relationship between the brain and movement and the interdependence between both is critical for life and development. Movement in the early stages of development is reflexive and it is controlled by our primitive reflexes. Play then comes to the primary means of developing greater and more varied movement skills such as rolling, crawling, and climbing.
Play is a key component that the brain requires to thrive. When a child moves, he or she is laying down a network of communicating neurons in the brain. The more varied the movement, the better.
When early movement or later play is not taking place, the brain does not develop to its optimum. When early movement is taking place, connections and codes for movements are all stored and, if repeated, they become what we call ‘engrained’ in the brain.
Play is Undervalued
Play is important from a young age – whether it is happening at school, at home, through sport, or with family and friends – it will contribute to the development of fundamental movement skills along with healthier and happier human beings.
Click here to watch Dr. Brown’s TED talk on the value and importance of play.
Stimulation through Play or Technology
Arguably, technology and convenience has led to a very sedentary lifestyle for both young and old alike. Like Brown, other behavioural psychologists are very concerned and worried about the impact of the lack of physical and social free play.
Amusement and pleasure are seen as essential components of play. Certainly, play for children suggests that an activity is undertaken for pleasure. However, is school and family and community contributing to opportunities for physical and social free play? And is technology taking the place of all free play time? These are crucial issues and questions for parents, teachers, and coaches to consider.
All in all, Physical play is essential – not just from a movement pattern development perspective, but from the equally important social integration impact and development.
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