Significance of Play and Development

Nov 4, 2020

Play is a physical or mental activity that is performed for leisure, pleasure or delight. While the play has no obvious objective, it is an important tool for physical, social, learning and intellectual development. All these lead to changes that allow children and adults to achieve their maximum potential.

The play has many characteristics that are crucial for brain development and learning. It offers opportunities for children and adults to encounter new experiences and refine already existing skills. It also encourages creativity in children and adults.

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There are many different types of play.

  1. Gross Motor Play: This type of play involves whole-body movements and large muscles of the body to perform everyday functions such as standing, walking, running, jumping, swimming, throwing, dancing and so on. Gross motor play helps in improving balance, increased strength, and better postural control.
  2. Fine Motor Play: Fine motor play involves the use of the smaller muscles of the hands in activities involving the use of pencils, scissors, writing, drawing, Lego construction, cards sewing, cards lacing, and buttons. This type of play enhances hand and fingers strength and prepares children for writing.
  3. Visual perceptual play: This play requires the child to make sense of what one looks at. Visual play assists in recognising shapes, colours, letters, and numbers.
  4. Auditory play: This play is responsible for hearing and perceiving the information which is presented verbally. It helps to enhance concentration, attention, phonological awareness and distinguish between various sounds in children.
  5. Sensory-motor play: This play provides children with an opportunity to experience the world through the use of their senses (taste, smell, touch, sight, hear, body awareness and balance) and attach meaning to the world around them.
  6. Pretend Play: This pretends play helps children to use toys that resemble real-life objects. This play is also recognised as a symbolic play, dramatic play, imaginative play, make-believe play. It helps children to increase their language use and understanding of the narrative.
  7. Roleplay: Roleplay is more structured when compared to pretend play where the child plays the role of a specific character. This helps the child to develop communication, language and social development skills. It also fosters thinking, learning and problem-solving.
  8. Other types of play include:Unoccupied play: where an infant moves freely without an objective to involve in play.
  9. Independent play: Self-play with paying little or no attention to what others are playing.  
  10. Onlooker play: where the child does not involve in any play but observes other children play.  
  11. Cooperative play: where children play together for a common objective.

Lev Vygotsky stated that when a child engages in a play he always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behaviour and assumes he is a head taller than himself.

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Below are a few play activities that parents and teachers can integrate into their daily interactions with children and students.

  1. Find and name it: In this activity, children are to find objects that start with a given alphabet, tag it, and say a few sentences about it. This is an example of visual perceptual play that can help in language development.
  2. Greenlight Redlight: this activity works as an energiser by allowing children to assume the right hand as a green light and left hand as red light. They are required to respond by raising it according to the colour names. This is an example of gross motor play.
  3. Socks can be used for storytelling, by pretending it to be some animal. This type of pretend play allows children to be innovative and imaginative.
  4. Sorting activities such as sorting a bowl of little objects like colourful beads, or coins. These are examples of fine motor play.

Let’s aim at using play as the foundation of learning because play in real life is engaging and facilitates practical learning. Play is a language of children, a primary life function and it provides them with opportunities to explore. Play activities such as singing, dancing, storytelling, pretend play, will have an advantage towards holistic development in children.

What are you waiting for?

Let the child unleash his creativity and learning through play!

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Pooja Agarwal

Ms. Pooja Agarwal is a Counseling Psychologist, Montessori Trainer, Cogmed Coach and Founder of Samarthya. She specializes in assisting individuals with emotional, psychological well-being issues by improving their capacity to resolve crisis, alleviate feelings of distress and enhance individual capabilities.