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The Importance Of Play And Leisure For Children Essay

Describe the importance of play and leisure for children and young people. Wales is the only country in the world to have a policy about play, part of it says; “play is the elemental learning process by which humankind has developed. Children exhibit a behavioural imperative and instinctive desire to play. It has contributed significantly to the evolutionary and developmental survival of our species. Children use play in the natural environment to learn of the world they inhabit with others. It is the very process of learning and growth, and as such all that is learnt through it is of benefit to the child.” (welsh government play policy) It is so important for children of all ages to be able to play as part of their daily life for many reasons. Children learn from everything they do, “Children are like sponges” is a familiar expression to everyone.

Play is a vital part of human development. it leads to a world of discovery, problem solving, concentration and focus, literacy, numeracy and science. Play is a chance for children to try something for themselves, work something out by reinacting something they’ve seen or using pure imagination. Different ages will have different needs from their play, for instance a one year old may mainly prefer solitary play but interaction is necessary for the baby to progress emotionally, intellectually and physically. Parallel and observational play when toddlers play alongside each other but are aware of others still requires the start of turn taking and co-operation if a toy is wanted by both. Group play encourages interaction between peers which helps speech, attention span, co-operation, practising turn taking, team building, and emotional knowledge of other people’s needs. So play is important for many things; Allows child to investigate and discover

Builds emotional bonds with carers
Stimulates creative imagination
Builds social skills
Explore cause and effect
Allows child to be “in charge”
Reach full potential
Build self esteem
Become physically strong and able.

Children naturally want to move, and in fact don’t stop moving if given the chance. The physicality of play means that co-ordination and cognitive skills are progressed. Giving a child the chance to use their body and take risks by sitting upright, crawling, jumping, running, climbing and balancing all help to develop muscles and enhance gross motor skills (bigger movements), As well as encouraging a healthy attitude about exercise, building muscle strength and staying fit, children learn how to gain control of their body movement and this in turn leads to being able to control finer movements such as holding a pencil or these days operating a game on a mobile phone or tablet.

The consequences of no play at all in a child’s life could be fundamentally damaging to that child’s development. This has been very evident with children left in Bosnian orphanages in the 1990s, put in cots for twenty to twenty four hours a day, with very little interaction, no visual or auditory stimulation and no play what so ever. Studies show that the impact of such extreme deprivation like this leads to huge delays in all areas of development, cognitive, emotional, physical, and intellectual and a failure to thrive in all areas of life.

Describe how play and leisure contribute to children and young people’s development. “play is so critically important to all children in the development of their physical, social, mental, emotional and creative skills that society should seek every opportunity to support it and create an environment that fosters it. Decision making at all levels of government should include a consideration of the impact of those decisions, on children’s opportunities to play.” (Welsh governments play policy) Children start life vulnerable and totally dependent on their parents. In order for them to reach maturity they need to develop all aspects of themselves. Play leads to the development of intellect and physicality. This happens naturally as humans have an innate curiosity to try things out and investigate. The stimulation they need to encourage this is around them everywhere and shouldn’t be inhibited. A small baby will reach for something bright or a loved one’s face.

Reaching and grasping for things is the start of a lifetime of movement. However children’s physical development in the world we live in today is generally thought to be compromised by the way we live and according to Annette Rawstrone (nursery Equipment) “shouldn’t be left to chance and children of all ages should be given plenty of opportunities in their everyday play”. Providing a suitable environment with toys and enough space to explore will help to stimulate children’s development. The physicality of play means that co-ordination and cognitive skills are helped. By moving, a baby will strengthen muscles and enhance skills. Tummy time or floor time encourages movement, and as strength increases so does ability eventually leading to sitting, pulling up and finally walking. Physical play requires the use of gross motor skills; these are the bigger movements that we make. This leads to cognitive development and fine motor skills being developed such as holding a pencil.

Children need to use their bodies as much as possible in order to gain control of them, develop physical strength and hand-eye co-ordination, agility and flexibility. Play encourages all of this without children even realising its happening. Play, especially imaginative and creative can help and encourage toddlers to move on from solitary play to parallel, observational and finally group play. By giving children experiences to share and engage with others, learn to empathise with others and progress towards being independent. Outline the requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in relation to relaxation and play. Governments around the world promised all children wherever they live the same rights. These rights are based on what a child needs to thrive, regardless of who they are. These needs are agreed to be the right to; An education

To be healthy
To a childhood
To be treated fairly
To be heard

It is recognized that children have the right to rest and leisure. Article 31 of the convention states that “Every child has the right to relax, play and join in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities” Therefore governments around the world that have signed the convention must work to ensure they do everything possible to facilitate these rights. Describe the characteristics of freely chosen, self-directed play and leisure.

Choice is a critical factor of free play. This gives children the opportunity to explore their world, problem solve creatively, work out big themes such as life and death, explore emotions and negotiate solutions. Free Play is described by Play England as “children choosing what they want to do, how they want to do it and when to stop and try something else. Free play has no external goals set by adults and has no adult imposed curriculum. Although adults usually provide the space and resources for free play and might be involved, the child takes the lead and the adults respond to cues from the child”. So the distinguishing features of free play are that it is;

Unproductive
Child initiated
No goals set by adults
Actively imaginative
Spontaneous
Freely chosen

Different types of free play vary from superhero play where the child could be playing out a role such as a “fireman” where there is danger and honour involved or acting out and investigating “the baddie” in order to feel what it’s like to be bad or good. Themes such as these and strong emotional subjects that even adults find hard such as death can be explored safely in free play.


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