It’s more than just play

Sameera Sood

play Imagine this scenario: the household help at home takes the day off. You have to sweep and mop the entire house before you leave for work. How will you feel? Angry/upset/frustrated?

Yet we have seen children spontaneously pick up a broom and happily sweep the floor. In fact, they get upset when the broom is taken away from them.

The act of sweeping, considered strenuous and boring by adults, becomes play for children. This brings us to the big question – What is play? And how is it important for children?

Work is what you are obliged to do, play is what you’re not obliged to do – this statement by Mark Twain clearly highlights the distinction between work and play.

Play is
• Freely chosen
• Personally directed
• Intrinsically motivated

Play is a self-chosen activity. Children participate in play for the enjoyment and satisfaction they derive from successful participation.

All children play. They explore the world, make sense of their environment and learn about the world around them through play. Play helps them construct knowledge, develop intellectual and social skills, acquire dexterity and learn emotional control. Thus, play is the route through which children learn spontaneously and without pressure.

Why is play important?

Physical and motor development
Play helps children grow strong and healthy. Vigorous play such as running, kicking ball, riding a bicycle, etc., improves strength, stamina, muscle co-ordination and balance. Quiet play such as constructing with blocks or molding with clay improves fine motor co-ordination and dexterity.

The author leads Curriculum Design and Teacher Development at Inspire, an educational consultancy that provides curriculum, training and school set-up solutions. She can be reached at sameera.sood@inspireedu.org.

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