Play is the natural way for a child to discover the world around them and interact with others. Through play children combine movement, thinking, listening and communication which help’s children to develop and enhance their skills. Adult’s sharing play with children are helping the child to develop knowledge and skills in communication and interaction but sometimes children may need a little extra help with play to develop particular skills. Play and activities can be used to encourage vocabulary and language. Children will then go on and incorporate what they have learnt in their own play. It ensures that language is used meaningfully which is important for children. Play can lead to exploration and develops physical and cognitive skills e.g. * Gross motor skills
* Locomotive skills
* Fine motor skills
* Listening skills
* Speech, language and communication
* Social Skills
Play enables a child to develop a clear understanding of themselves, the world around them and the relationships that they have with family and friends. It also promotes a positive attitude and in response children’s confidence and experimentation of ideas and feelings develop. Play is a social occasion as it offers opportunities for communication in different social situations; * Playing with friends at school
* Playing with adults – equal play, both playing together * Practising or engaging in activities involving friends – creating their own social structure. * Therapeutic intervention – individual play sessions.
* Expressions – verbal and non-verbal
* Play is communication with others.
Children always use toys in different ways and should not be limited on the toys that they use. A child can learn so much during role play, from working together, language, solving problems, communication, taking turns and decision making. No matter what toy is being played with a child’s imagination is limitless!. Encouraging creative activities enables the children to express themselves using different materials e.g. paint, paper, crayons, chalk and encourages them to use their hands, fingers and even feet. By involving messy/creative activities it helps a child to create paintings, drawings, colour, trace by thinking and making decisions. Dramatic play or role play can often take place in the home corner, a child could focus on cooking and which enables to the teacher or TA to encourage conversations with them about favourite foods, what vegetables grow in the ground, colour and shape.
All of these conversations and questions encourage children to be inquisitive and enable them to enhance their development. Nursery rhymes/songs/musical instruments can help children to listen, take turns and to communicate. They will also learn new words, sounds and how to work together. Books can help to increase vocabulary, meaning of words, sounds and imagination. A book can also meet the child’s interests and become a talking point as to why they like it. Play is simply actions and thoughts that help a child to engage with their environment and is the main media in which children develop their skills and knowledge. Play is a child’s thinking time and is essential to all areas of development and should be encouraged so that they can grow not only in size and skill but as a person.