Play is an important dimension of student learning here at Holy Family. It permeates learning across all year groups – at a developmentally appropriate level for the learners involved, allowing children to explore areas of interest whilst developing essential social and emotional skills.
Kids Matter Australia cite some of the many positive benefits of play:
PLAY HELPS CHILDREN DEVELOP A POSITIVE SENSE OF SELF
Play provides opportunities for children to have power over what they do and what and how they learn. Children often have little or no say about what they do, when they do it and when they stop. Their lives are often organised around an adult’s schedule. Of course most adults are making decisions in the interests of the child, but in the eyes of the child they may feel quite powerless in many aspects of their everyday lives.
PLAY HELPS CHILDREN LEARN IMPULSE CONTROL
If you are building a castle and you get frustrated and knock it down, you have lost your castle. If you are drawing a picture and scribble on it because it is not going right, you learn you no longer have a picture. In these ways children gradually learn that they need to control their impulses in order to achieve what they want.
PLAY IS A WAY THAT CHILDREN CAN WORK THROUGH AND RESOLVE PROBLEMS
Play is a way for children to learn about their abilities and have mastery experiences that are important for building resilience and developing.
PLAY AND DEVELOPING CHILDREN’S SOCIAL SKILLS
As well as contributing to emotional development and building confidence in their own ability, children’s play is important for developing and learning the social skills that will be the foundation for children’s future relationships. These skills develop over time.
SUPPORTING CHILDREN’S PLAY BENEFITS DEVELOPMENT AND WELLBEING
Children learn a great deal through play by themselves, with each other and with adults. The times when adults engage with children in their play can be very special for children. Setting aside even a short time for playing with children every day builds close relationships, as well as helping to build children’s self-esteem.
Kids Matter Australia state school-aged children (around six to nine years):
- Start to play more concrete games, and have a better grasp of rules. Children at this age may start to enjoy playing team games, although if they are still developing the emotional skills required to be a good winner and loser, may have difficulty losing cheerfully at some games.
- May start to want to play with children the same sex as them, and may stereotype the opposite gender including talking about what ‘boys do’ and ‘girls do’. This can be a good time to explain to children that boys and girls can play at any games.
- Start to increase their capacity for empathy ie imagining what it’s like to be another person, and develop sustained friendships. They may also have a growing desire to fit in and be accepted by their peer group.
Research also suggests that play helps children (indeed, adults too) to be more efficient learners too: