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don’t forget to PLAY

encouraging play encourages child development

don't forget to PLAY

“Child’s play” is more than a mere cliché to describe tasks that are easy, frivolous and unimportant in the overall scheme of things. To a child, child’s play is essential to their mental, social, emotional and physical development.

Children are guided by a natural instinct to play, beginning at birth with unoccupied play that will quickly develop into cooperative play by age four. It’s obvious that children love to play but we may not understand the importance of play in a child’s life.

play is essential to a child’s development

There are six major stages of play that a child will develop throughout their early life.

The first is unoccupied play, where the child may not seem to play with others but they are engaged with random movements. This stage paves the way for future play skills.

Next comes solitary play, when children tend to play alone with little to no interest of what others around them are doing. This stage of play teaches a child how to entertain themselves.

Onlooker play occurs when a child watches others but does not participate. They may comment on the activity or ask questions about it.

Parallel play occurs when children play side-by-side but do not engage directly with each other. They will typically play with similar toys and often times imitate each other. While it looks like there is no social contact during this play they are learning valuable social skills and cues from one another.

Associative play happens when children begin to play together without a focus on a common goal. Children may still play with separate toys, but at this stage they begin to actively talk and engage with one another without any set rules of play. They may trade toys or comment on each others’ activities.

Play finally becomes organized into groups during cooperative play when children are now interested in both the people they are playing with as well as the activity they are engaging in. Play now focuses on a group of goals or specific tasks.

play helps children develop physically as well

Play strengthens and refines small and large motor skills while building stamina and strength. Play provides a means for energy to be put to use. It also aids in developing sensory learning by allowing children to explore, learn and make sense of their environment through play.

play is essential to learning

Through play children learn basic concepts such as colors, counting and problem solving. Thinking and reasoning skills are at work every time a child engages in some type of play.

Play fulfills many needs including a sense of accomplishment, successfully giving and receiving attention and emotional satisfaction. Children learn about fairness and appropriate ways of expressing and dealing with emotions such as anger, fear, frustration and stress.

encourage your child to play

Childhood is fleeting, so take advantage of these short years to help your child develop socially and emotionally. Be creative and be fun! And who knows…you may learn a thing or two along the way.

Our awesome guest writer and author of this informative article is Chelsy. She is a blogger and single mother of a beautiful little girl who is the light of her life, the blessing of her soul and the vanquisher of all sanity. They spend a lot of time together. Check out her wonderful blog at

books that encourage play

Nurture your child's creativity and joy with these playful stories. Through characters who embrace the magic of play and the wonder of their imaginations, these books remind children of the importance of having fun and letting loose.

coloring fun

Please enjoy this free Tot Tails coloring page to help share this message with your child.

share with us

We would love to hear your experiences and advice on encouraging little ones to make time for play, fostering a sense of wonder, curiosity, and self-expression. Are there any books or resources you feel can help? Thanks so much for reading and feel free to comment below!


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