The Importance of Play

by | January 19, 2018

The Words of Maria Montessori, Play Is The Work of the Child

Play activities are essential to healthy development for children and adolescents. Humans, unlike animals, have 75% of their brain development occur after birth. Activities for kids both stimulate and influence the pattern of the connections made between the nerve cells. Influencing the development of fine and gross motor skills, language, personal awareness, emotional health, creativity, problem solving and social awareness.

Play, such as time outdoors or in playgroups, is crucial to make sure your child’s physical development is progressing, helping their choices and practicing actions to mastery. Children should be exposed to a wide variety of content such as art, music, language, science, and early math skills. Each of these is important for the development of a complex and integrated brain. Play that links sensorial-motor, cognitive, and social-emotional experiences aids in brain development, and brings a new level of learning to a young child’s mind.

Play with others

The Montessori philosophy explains that the essential dimensions of play are:

  • Voluntary, enjoyable, purposeful and spontaneous
  • Creativity expanded using problem solving skills, social skills, and language
  • Help gain skills and physical accomplishments
  • Expand on new ideas
  • Assists the child with social adaptation
  • Teaches skills to combat emotional issues

 

If play is the work of the child, toys are the tools. Children learn about their world, themselves, and others by playing with toys. They teach children to:

  • Figure out how things work
  • Pick up new ideas
  • Build muscle control and strength
  • Use their imagination
  • Solve problems
  • Learn to cooperate with others

Play content should come from the child’s own imagination and experiences.

Play with Parents


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Unfortunately, the play experience for today’s child is different than past generations. With electronic media including TV, videos, video games and the internet, child are spending much of their time being passively entertained and minimally interacting using a keyboard or control pad with an electronic device.

This takes away the learning experiences of unstructured play with other kids as well as individual playtime spent in imaginative play. Parents have a huge role in this, play needs of their child and provide an environment to meet those needs. Check out our handmade toy guide for examples of toys that encourage interactive and imaginative playtime.

Taking some time from “adulting” can give you a lot of insight on your child’s needs during his playtime. In my time in the classrooms of a Montessori school, I was able to observe and gain a lot of insight of what skills are cultivated by simple sorting work, and other creative and sensorial works. There has never been a prouder moment than watching your child accomplish what he needs to do in his work. While many times these now old fashioned toys are overlooked in favor of flashy electronics or toys with loud sounds and lights, providing your child with the basics like puzzles and blocks makes all the difference.

 


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