Child psychologist David Elkind states that play is a “crucial dynamic of physical, intellectual, social and emotional development for all children.” Children are learning all the time. Each new experience, including play, brings something valuable into a child’s life. According to the book The Power of Play by David Elkind, there are four major types of play; mastery, innovative, kinship and therapeutic. Each of these categories fosters the building of concepts and skills, introduces variations, initiates peer relations and gives children the tools for dealing with stressful situations. Play is natural and parents should not be concerned with whether or not their child is getting enough of one type of play over another. Each type is limitless and intertwined. All of them together help to build a child’s self-confidence and relationships with others.
Play is also synonymous with toys. Toys come in all shapes and sizes and all varying degrees of animation. This includes basic toys from a bat and ball to sophisticated video games. However the toy is not what is impactful. A child’s active participation determines the impact of the toy or activity. And toys are not always a necessity in creative play. In fact, too many toys can be a distraction from creativity and can cause apathy to them in general. Having fewer toys makes the ones that children have that much more special. There is no limit to the imagination as anything can be fastened or used for play.
Famous physician and educator, Maria Montessori, once said that “play is a child’s work.” In over scheduled routines and limited family time, parents and caregivers may have a difficult time finding enough hours in the day to get the basics done with their children. But one thing that is very important is not to skimp on free time to explore and play without structure. Play is the work that needs to be done by the child. It leads to early spontaneity and imaginative ideas that transforms the child into the more, well-rounded, creative adult.
The Power of Play: How spontaneous, imaginative activities lead to happier, healthier Children by David Elkind
The Power of Play: Designing Early Learning Spaces by Dorothy Stoltz, Marisa Conner and James Bradbury
There are also several wonderful films on the Power of Play that can be accessed through Kanopy such as; The Power of Physical Play: Development and Effective Learning from Siren Films.