Many from brain development. Children’s playtime has steadily decreased

Many people today, wonder if it is necessary
for children to play during their early years. Play very much impacts the development
of young children, as it helps develop not only their cognitive skills, but all
their other skills such as, social and emotional skills, physical skills, gross
motor skills, fine motor skills, and communication and language skills.

Research shows that these skills are crucial in the early development of a
child, as children will continue to develop these skills throughout their
entire lifetime.  Research also shows
that children’s play in the early years is required in order for individuals to
achieve their maximum development. Therefore, it is necessary for all children
to play, so that they can properly develop the skills required for becoming
knowledgeable individuals. Playing is one of the most important things you can do with
your child, because play is essential for your child’s brain development. The
time you spend playing together gives your child lots of different ways and
times to learn. Play is an essential part of every child’s life and is vital
for the enjoyment of childhood as well as social, emotional, intellectual and
physical development. Having time and space to play gives the children the
opportunity to meet and socialize with their friends, it keeps them physically
active, and it allows them to have some control over what they choose to do and
not do. The
most important role that play can have is to help children to be active, make
choices and practice actions to mastery. They should have experience with a
wide variety of content (art, music, language, science, math, social relations)
because each is important for the development of a complex and integrated
brain. Play that links sensori-motor, cognitive, and social-emotional
experiences provide an ideal setting from brain development. Children’s playtime has steadily
decreased due to limited access to play spaces, changes in the way children are
expected to spend their time, parent concerns for safety, and digital media
use.

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Play based learning and natural play are
similar topics associated with children and their development. Play based
learning is one method that involves children to play with their surroundings
and is used to both teach children important skills and to help further develop
those skills. Natural play is a form of play which children naturally perform,
they don’t need to be taught, it is something they are born with. All children
are naturally born with a playful personality. Play based learning fits into
the idea of natural play by allowing children the opportunity to play freely
and not being instructed to play with a certain toy, person, or play a certain
game. Any child can learn skills from an object or person they are playing
with. Recent studies have proven that children who are given the opportunity to
naturally play with what they want to play with, will be better behaved than
those children who are not given as much of an opportunity. The children who
are allowed to play naturally will also better develop essential skills, rather
than the children who are not given the opportunity.

Even though there is so much research
supporting play based learning and free play for children, there are still so
many children who didn’t and still don’t have enough opportunities to play.

When children aren’t given enough opportunities to play there are many
noticeable consequences. Play deprivation causes both physical and
psychological consequences, consequences such as; inhibited brain development,
behavioral instability, and lower academic scoring. David Elkind states in his
“Can We Play?”;

A 2007 report from
the American
Academy of Pediatrics
documents that play promotes not only behavioral
development but brain growth as well. The University of North Carolina’s Abecedarian Early Child Intervention program found that
children who received an enriched, play-oriented parenting and early childhood
program had significantly higher IQ’s at age five than did a comparable group
of children who were not in the program (105 vs. 85 points). (Elkind, 2008)

Lower IQ levels can be connected to a lack of problem solving
abilities which can be connected back to the lack of opportunity to play.

Children will learn cause and effect relationships, how to manipulate objects,
and develop critical thinking skills. Problem solving is to provide children
with a mechanism for making good choices about how to respond or act and react
in various situations. When it comes to problem solving, it requires time,
patience, energy and skill and these skills can all be learned through play.

             Not
only are children developing the neurological foundations that will enable
problem solving, language and creativity, they are also learning while they are
playing. They are learning how to relate to others, how to calibrate their
muscles and bodies and how to think in abstract terms. Through their play
children learn how to learn. What is acquired through play is not specific
information but a general mind set towards solving problems that includes both
abstraction and combinatorial flexibility where children string bits of
behavior together to form novel solutions to problems requiring the
restructuring of thought or action. A child who is not being stimulated, by
being played with, and who has few opportunities to explore his or her
surroundings, may fail to link up fully those neural connections and pathways
which will be needed for later learning.

Another consequence of play deprivation
is a lower mental state, research supports that when children aren’t given
enough opportunities to play at a young age they are more vulnerable to develop
mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. When children aren’t engaged
in free play they are not receiving the life experience which later in life
gives them the confidence to become competent adults.  Free play is all about choices and control,
young children don’t have much control over their life decisions, which makes
free play that much more important. Allowing children to make their choices and
take control over that aspect of their loves can help them later in life.  Esther Entin states in her article “All Work
and No Play: Why Your Kids Are More Anxious, Depressed”

Anxiety and depression
often occur when an individual feels a lack of control over his or her own
life. “Those who believe that they master their own fate are much less likely
to become anxious or depressed than those who believe that they are victims of
circumstances beyond their control.” (Entin 2011)

Anxiety is often related to a sense of control; anxiety can
be caused by a lack of a sense of control in one or more areas of life. This
lack of control can cause a powerless feeling in the face of
fears and worries.

The lack of a sense of control can leave us feeling anxious, worried, or
fearful when we don’t think we should be. 

Therefore, it is necessary for children to
play; play based learning fits into the idea of natural play by allowing
children the opportunity to play freely and not be instructed to play with a
certain toy, person, or play a certain game; and ECE’s support children’s play
experiences by giving children an appropriate balance between alone time,
social interaction time, and activity time. All of these factors will ensure
proper development of children.