Children are known to select increasingly demanding physical play as they continue to grow before they reach adulthood. Child plays give them a greater opportunity to develop muscle control and coordination. At the ages of between eight to twelve years, boundless amounts of energy and enthusiasm are hallmarks of their play.
It is thus common to find children in this age group enjoying running, tumbling, climbing on jungle gyms, and swinging. As the kids grow in motor skills and confidence, they begin more advanced forms of play such as roller skating, skipping rope, skate boarding, and throwing and catching. The increased physical abilities of children and coupled with their improved coordination also allows them to participate in team sports and other organized activities in which their physical ability affects the outcome of the games.
Play helps children develop important mental concepts. It is through play that children learn the meaning of important concepts such as ‘up’ and ‘down’, ‘hard’ and ‘soft’. Play also contributed to a child’s knowledge of building and arranging things in sets. Children actually learn to sort, classify, and probe several issues concerning their growth and development.
Play is actually important even as a child grows during the later childhood years. At the age when children reach grade 4 to 5, vigorous play is still important. Children of this age group vary widely. These children vary in size, interests, activities, and abilities. These differences actually influence every aspect of their development.
Child plays are important because they help children participate in events and activities that they have seen other people participate in. playing outdoor games also helps children to learn to sense differences in their world as the season changes and as they observe other subtle changes in their environment every day.
The emulation of different activities and events are actually in line with Piagetian and Vygotskian theories of play. For instance, there is a certain game that requires the player, who is a child, to act as a fire fighter. The child will put on a rain coat and a firefighter’s hat.
He then rushes to rescue his teddy bear from the pretend flames in his play house. The child is practicing what he has previously learned about firefighters. This situation actually supports Vygotskian theory. Thus, children will always practice whatever they have learned in certain aspects of life thereby constructing new knowledge. It is therefore clear that play has a valuable role in the early childhood classroom (Mayesky 2009).
A child gains an understanding of his or her environment as he or she investigates stones, grass, flower, earth, water, and anything else. Through these experiences, the child eventually begins to make their own generalizations. For instance, they learn that adding water to earth makes mud, a paddle of water disappears in sand and the inner part of a milkweed pod blows away in the wind.
They also learn simple logics such as the fact that wet socks can be dried out in the sun. Also, as children play, they develop spatial concepts because they climb in, over, and around the big box in the yard. Children learn how to clarify concepts of ‘in’, ‘over’, and ‘around’. There are still many other reasons to support child play. Playing is important to any child as long as the kind of play is acceptable and relevant according to the adult’s perspective (John 1996).
John, M. (1996). Children in Charge: The Child’s Right to a Fair Hearing. Bloomington: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Mayesky, M. (2009). Creative Activities for Young Children. Artamon: Cengage Learning.