Why play is important

25 Aug 2016


In the early years, your child’s main way of learning and developing is through play.

Play is fun for your child and gives her an opportunity to explore, observe, experiment, solve problems and learn from her mistakes. She’ll need your support and encouragement to do this. But it’s important to try to find a balance between helping her and letting her make mistakes, because finding out for herself about how the world works is a big part of learning.

Lots of time spent playing, talking, listening and interacting with you helps your child learn the skills he needs for life, like communicating, thinking, solving problems, moving and being with other people and children.

But more than this, play is a great relationship builder. Spending time playing with your child sends a simple message – you are important to me.

The peekaboo example
A simple game of peekaboo is a great example of how relationships, playing and spending time together help with all areas of a baby’s development.

More than a game
Peekaboo is a great game to play with babies, but it’s much more than this too.

For starters, the baby wants to play with his mother, which means he’s attached to her. This is a sign of healthy social and emotional development. Baby has fun with his mother, and she has fun with him, which also makes him feel safe, valued and loved.

Peekaboo also helps with the baby’s thinking, as he learns about what comes next when Mum disappears and then reappears.

When the baby squeals and reaches out his arms to communicate he wants more, he’s developing his language and motor skills. And when his mother responds, it encourages him to keep communicating with her.
The mother is paying close attention to her baby, so she understands when to play more and when to stop. The baby understands that she’s reliable and that he can trust her, which helps him feel safe. And feeling safe gives him confidence to explore the world.

Raising Children Network. Why relationships are important for development. Raising Children Online. 2013; [cited 2013 Sep 07]; [1 screen]. Available at URL: http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/child_development_relationships.html/context/1149

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