The Value of Play in Early Childhood


The Value of Play in Early Childhood

The values to be derived from play are  as varied as the values  to be derived from life. The physical,  intellectual,  social and religious  natures  all  are  indebted to play.

Time given to play  is  not wasted,  for its values  can not be  overestimated. The child who does  not play is  the one whose time is wasted.

The physical benefits  of play alone  justify the place which should be given to this  spontaneous  activity  during childhood. It  is  one  of the  greatest  contributing factors  in the  development  of perfect  health.   When everything else has been done to promote health,  activity  is  necessary to stimulate  and guide growth and development.

Play brings greater activity than work because  it  is easier, more pleasurable  and less  fatiguing.   These characteristics  are due to the  fact that play reactions  involve chiefly the oldest  and oftenest used centers  and demand  little  or no  sustained attention. The progressive nature  of play  in meeting the demands  of nature  in stimulation and development of growth, gives it particular physical value. One  of the main reasons  for the  contribution which play makes  to  general health  is the  fact  that  it  is pleasureful.

Everyone  knows  the buoyant  and stimulating influence which pleasurable activities  have upon the nervous  system and the response which health makes  to happiness.

General physical reserve to meet  emergencies  requiring strength,speed,  skill or endurance is an asset which is built up through play, because of the variable nature of play providing constant and suitable exercise of all  important physical  and mental activities.

The  recreational  or “rest after fatigue” values  of play have been mentioned in connection with the theory of Guts Muth.   This value alone gives play  its  rightful place  in the  life  of old and young.   To teach our youth to  find relaxation and diversion in wholesome physical play will save them from possible  indulgences  in drugs,  narcotics,  alcohol or worse forms  of vice.

The Value of Play in Early Childhood : preschool Child development,Play based learning,Importance of play in child development and Child Psychology.

The Value of Play in Early Childhood

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The Intellectual Values of Play

It  has been observed that  there  is  a relation between the  intelligence  of animals  and the  length of their infancy.   The  lower animal  forms  are born in fall possession of their powers without practice or training While man,  the highest  expression of animal  intelligence,  is  given the  longest period of infancy.

The  first  tendency of the  infant  is  to  activity.   Upon activity depends  the  growth  of the body and the “mind goes hand  in hand with the body.”

(This  fact  is  based upon a publication of the United States Bureau of Education in 1914 which reported that  children retarded in physical development were  retarded mentally, while  strong healthy  children were  forward  in school work.     )

The  infant’s  first playful manipulative activities, which are reflexive  in nature, give  rise to  consciousness when he  finds his movements pleasurable.   With repetition of random movements  he  finally develops the power to direct his  activities.

Later he  finds  that  from a chosen act he receives the same sensations as when previously performed,  and memory is reached.

Association connections  are made  between sense perceptions  aroused through play.   With memory and experiences come images and imaginative play which  is  creative mental activity.

Through play physical  acts become  automatic  and  involuntary  so that the mind  is  released  for higher more complex activity.   At  first  the child’s  attention must  be given entirely to  such bodily control as walking, but with practice he  relieves his  nervous  system of such sustained attention and  frees his mind  for other activity.

Play  affords mental  relaxation.  Through  long continued effort  brain tissues become  fatigued the same as do muscular tissues.   Play involves activities  of the reflex and sensor-motor level which are  a “change”  from the strain of the processes of the higher brain level.

The  school  boy,  exhausted from study,  goes  to  the playground and returns  breathless  from physical  exertion, but refreshed to the mental tasks before him.   The adult who knows how to play and does  is  the  one who withstands  the  strain of worry and mental effort.


Play gives  first-hand information of environment. The  child becomes acquainted with the physical world about him through his manipulative play. By imitation he gets  an insight  into the  responsibilities of life. Social play  furnishes  the  opportunity to gain an insight  into and understand human nature.

The  contribution which play makes to the development of judgment and decision can not be overestimated. Training in competitive games  includes training in quickness of thought,  interpretation and action.
To the higher mental process  of abstract thought play gives a wealth of experience both actual  and imagined upon which these complex mental activities  can be based. Play can be utilized in teaching such abstract subject. As arithmetic and with vastly better results because of the spontaneity which  playful activity arouses.

The Value of Play in Early Childhood : preschool Child development,Play based learning,Importance of play in child development and Child Psychology.

The Value of Play in Early Childhood

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The Social Values of Play 

Through play,  if freedom within limits  is  the policy,  the small child  learns  the  little  lessons  in living by experiencing and interpreting rather than by the  say-so  of some one  in authority;  and by so  learning
them these  lessons become actual  controlling elements  in his  life.

The little tot  if protected against  serious  injury when venturing up the  luring stairs, will  learn what  it means  to  fall  and to practice the precautions necessary to  avoid  falling wherever heights  are  concerned, without the element  of fear which might  enter  if the  lesson were learned through disastrous  experience.

Children should be  allowed this  freedom with reference to  their experiences with one  another.   The  little  ones playing in the  sandbox learn fundamental  lessons  in mutual  rights. They  learn to  control  themselves  in these relationships because they are not controlled externally.

There are times to be sure when restraint of the bully is necessary, but control  should at  all  other times  be that  of mutual  consent  rather than force  or fear.Obedience  in the home  is  necessary,  but  obedience based upon fear has  no moral value.

Self-control which  can be  realized only through freedom, must be the basis of obedience.Character  is  based upon  instincts  and emotions which find expression  in muscular activity.   Play which provides  such expression is,  therefore,  a strong factor in the  development  of character. In play  is  found
harmless  expression for the  instinctive tendencies and accompanying emotions which are no  longer necessary to  or  in harmony with the existing social order.

Children and adults  alike  can purge themselves  of these lower impulses  through playful activity and so  relieve their nervous  systems of restraint  of forces which might  otherwise break out  in destruction.   With the passing of the period of nascency these instincts tend to sink into obscurity if they have  been afforded wholesome and constructive expression, leaving behind them attitudes and habits of conduct which make up an individual character.

Thus  instincts  and their accompanying emotions  can be controlled, directed and substituted. In this  fact  lies the possibility of character training.   McDougall has given four levels  in the development of character in which the child without  sense of right or wrong, by virtue of restraint of playmates, parents,  rules of the game, and so on,  reaches the  level where his  actions  are  determined by his  own spiritual  approval.

His  spiritual approval is based upon those habits, attitudes  and ideals which have become a part  of him not only through instruction but by doing. Play  is  not  only expression but  impression. “There  is  scarcely a virtue that  is  not  born and reared to  sturdy strength through suitable  and timely play.”

The  foundations  of moral  character are  in the development  of regularity of the physical processes  of life  during the early years. If the performance  of these  activities  at  specified times  are made a part  of the  child’s play they grow into routine, associated with pleasant memories, rather than as disagreeable tasks imposed from above.

The persons whose privilege  it  is  to play with the child during the  first  three years  of his  life,  before he desires  the  companionship  of children his  own age,  have  every opportunity to  shape his  later life,  by calling forth in him responses which develop  into attitudes  and habits,

simply by presenting for his  imitation copies which adhere to the highest standards  of life. Thus  the  child at  the  age  of three can be courteous, calm, patient and cooperative or disrespectful,  irritable,  faultfinding and selfish in his  relationships with his  companions,  depending upon the attitudes  of his earliest playmates.   When the child begins playing with those his  own age, much  of that which  is undesirable will be  imitated  for periods  of time, but fortunately they are dropped and the old habits persist.

Rightly directed play keeps the child engaged in wholesome activity. Idleness  and undirected play  often give  opportunity to  the most aggressive  child to  dictate and make puppets  of the  other  children.   Pre-
school  children should always play with children their own age unless their activities with older  children can be  closely  supervised,  for the small child  is  naturally submissive to those  larger and older than him-self,  and the  older child  is not usually concerned with the values which the  smaller child is to receive,  but with his own selfish interests.

The Value of Play in Early Childhood Article Source ; The Psychology of preschool child Submitted by Iris Coldwell Frampton


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