• Thomas Scannell

The Importance of Play

Children at Play

“Stop playing and tidy up, Stop playing and do your homework”

How many times did I hear that growing up?

Play is one of the most underrated forms of child development and at the same time one of the most important, it’s not only about banging two toy cars together but contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. It offers parents and children time to fully engage and build relationships, trust and respect for each other.

But due to increased working hours of parents because of the growing cost of just about everything and the increased attention of schools on academics a child’s free play time has been greatly reduced as well as engagement time with parents and this is having a negative effect on our children.


Creativity, Imagination, Dexterity, Physical and Emotional strength are just a few of benefits of play. At an early age, children use play to help them explore and interact with the world around us, this allows children to become masters of their spaces pushing boundaries and conquering fear in there own way. (do you remember climbing trees and jumping from walls and the excitement of doing something you had never done before). As a child pushes themselves and becomes more confident in their own ability they will start to build resiliency that they will need as they become teenagers and then adults to be able to face knockbacks.

Play should be supervised and not directed by adults as much as possible this it ensures that children get the full benefits of play but not governed by adult rules and agendas. Free play (Undirected) allows children to be the bosses of their own environment so they can learn themselves how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills. During Free play, these skills can be practised at their own pace. There is nothing wrong with adults taking part in the play as this is great for relationship building, but adults should following children’s rules where possible as not to lose some of the benefits play offers them, particularly in developing creativity, leadership, and group skills.

Encouraging physical rather than gaming and video watching, build active, healthy children and is a way to increase physical activity levels in children from a younger age, which is one important strategy in the resolution of the obesity epidemic.

I encourage parents and cares to join their children in free play, this will give them look into how children make sense of the world and how they adapt it to fit into their lives. By engaging in a child’s free play we unconsciously are letting the child know we are giving them our full attention, in the long term this will help adults and children learn to communicate with each other more effectively as relationships would have been built from an early age.

“Quite simply, play offers parents a wonderful opportunity to engage fully with their children.”

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