Child development: why play is so important for babies and children

children’s development
Why play is so important

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Everyone talks about supporting children. But much more important than music lessons and painting classes is something completely different: plenty of time to play. Whether it’s classics like Uno and Quartet or with dolls and in the tree house: Playing trains for life and above all brings a lot of fun, lightness and joy.

Play strengthens family and communication

Children need closeness and are happy when their parents have time to play with them. “A family that plays together, stays together” is the motto in the USA. This means in plain Danish: Playing strengthens family cohesion. There is also a lot of discussion and negotiation when playing: Do you really always have to throw in “Mensch-ärgere-dich-nicht”? Or can you end the game when there are two characters in the house? Changing the rules is constructive and requires everyone to talk together and try to find a common solution. It promotes communication.

Play stimulates the senses and promotes logical thinking

Little boy playing with the wooden train

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Carpenting a small wooden cabin with their father, shaping and painting a muesli bowl in the ceramics course, researching and discovering with experiment sets: children learn about the laws of nature and how things are connected in a playful way. Senses and logical thinking are stimulated.

Playing helps to see the world from a different perspective

Little girl playing with a doll

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Children love “pretend play”. Small children play family and pretend to be mother: the doll is bathed, creamed and put to bed. Delicious food is prepared for the whole family in the doll’s kitchen. Next, they might play “Papa” and try to take the kitchen chairs apart with a screwdriver. The child will notice that being a father feels very different from being a mother. As children grow older, they begin to take on roles that no longer come from their immediate environment: They conquer alien galaxies at play, treat animals and play in the theater project group at school. Games are like a dress rehearsal for life. Children can try out different roles and situations and expand their range of experiences without risk and without external expectations: sometimes they are on the side of the “good guys”, sometimes they are on the side of the “bad guys”, sometimes they are powerful, next time powerless. In roles, children get to know themselves better and learn to look at the world from a different perspective. Role playing also helps children deal with difficulties, for example when there are fights at school.

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Child development: why play is so important

Playing promotes endurance and persistence

Has your child lost at Monopoly and the tears are already flowing, or are the playing pieces being swept off the table with a thump? Don’t worry: every child reacts like this once. When parents lead by example and show themselves to be good losers, children’s tolerance for frustration increases over time. Playing is not about children learning to lose unconditionally, but about not letting them get you down even in difficult situations. Endurance and persistence are required.

Playing makes you confident and happy

Baby boy sitting between his toys

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From an early age, children learn through play. At the age of a few months, a baby will begin to reach for things that pique their interest. For example, it grabs a string, pulls it – and then music plays. It’s fun, of course, and the child keeps pulling the string. It improves his coordination and fine motor skills. It also notes: “Aha, I can do something”. And this knowledge makes you confident and happy.

Of course, this is not only the case with young children, but also with older people: in quiz games, primary school children learn new facts in a playful way, with the help of experimental sets previously unknown connections are revealed. When playing board and living room games with friends or family, there is usually a lot of laughing. The feeling that “we are doing something together here and I am contributing to it” is good for school children’s self-confidence.

So does play always mean learning?

Please don’t misunderstand “learn”! It is not about parents getting their children into school with as many educational games as possible. Real play always comes from the child and brings out one thing above all: lots of fun. And along the way, children learn many useful things for life.


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