Why is play important in child development?

Teaching students have given me many insights into child development. One insight is the importance of play. It has many implications on a child’s development. To share more with parents, I decided to write this article to explain about play and best ways to implement play in a child’s development.

Why is play important in child development? Play helps children learn about their environment. Through play, children picks up problem solving skills and an ability to think flexibly. With play, children are placed in situations that challenges their emotions. This helps children learn to cope with emotions of failure and success.

Play can affect many aspects of child development. The most important child development roles will be discussed below. Lastly, read on to learn about the best ways you can implement play to achieve positive child growth. 

Play and child development

Child development involves the growth of a child’s physical and mental abilities. These abilities can be developed with play, an all-rounded approach to achieve these developmental objectives. 

Take for example, the simple play of running about. Running will help develop your child’s physical ability through muscular growth, and mental ability of sensory processing. 

Other forms of play, such as games will be more mental developmental focus. In this type of play, problem solving and strategic thinking skills will be developed.

With play, there is the added advantage of experiencing fun and happiness. Having fun and feeling happy is as important in encouraging a child’s positive development of mental health.

Types of play: Structured vs Unstructured

Play can be organized into “Structured” and “Unstructured” play. These two types of play perform equally important roles in child development. Involving your child in both types of play is critical to a holistic child development. 

Structured play involves usually an adult setting the direction of play. The direction of play lays out a specific task, objectives, or steps for the child to reach. This guides the child to a desired learning outcome for the play. 

In structured play, the child’s physical and cognitive developments are the focus. For example, structured play can be an adult guiding the child in solving a jigsaw puzzle. In other instances, structured play can be a sport game, such as baseball, which involves group play among children under the supervision of an adult. From both examples, you can see that the play will involve a set of instructions or rules to follow by.

The other type of play, unstructured play can be thought of as the opposite of structured play. It contrast starkly as it does not involve a specific set of instructions or rules determined by an adult.

The purpose of unstructured play is to stimulate a child’s creativity and flexibility in solving problems. For example, an unstructured play can be a group of children developing their own imaginary games with their own rules. 

As unstructured play is not guided under the supervision of an adult, it encourages children to explore their emotion towards the unknown and uncertainty. This can involve children facing unexpected challenges and learning to solve it themselves.

Nevertheless, both types of play are important for healthy child development. Structured play provides adult the chance to provide and develop skills within children. With skills and understandings, children can feel more confident in tackling unexpected challenges during unstructured play. Therefore, parents or educators can utilize both types of play to achieve synergistic child development outcomes.

By involving both structured and unstructured play in your child’s development, you give your child a holistic learning and growth experience.

(More Coming Soon…)


child care, Child development, learning, Parenting


Casual writer on engaging education topics.

Engage & Learn

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