If there is something that children like, it is to play. It is the activity par excellence of childhood and contributes fundamentally to the development and learning of children. The little ones go through different game stages as they get older, and each one of them has characteristics that help the child in a different way, that provide different learning. We analyze them on our site.
Children play for fun, but it is also a form of expression of emotions, concerns, feelings ... When the child dresses up, builds, paints or acts as a teacher, is expressing his inner world, while exploring his surroundings and experimenting. The game world is one in which children can be what they want to be, imagine, invent and create worlds in which they can do what in real life they cannot. It is a key tool for the development of imagination and creativity.
The game, in addition, influences all areas of development and in the processes of construction of the knowledge of oneself and of the external reality, the development of language, etc.
Every developmental stage has a characteristic game, and we can distinguish between:
- The functional game.
- The symbolic game.
- The game of rules.
- The construction game.
It is important to know how is each type of game and its benefits in order to provide children with the experiences necessary for their development and practice.
Up to 2 years of age, functional or exercise play predominates, which basically consists of repeating an action over and over again for the pure pleasure of obtaining a stimulus. Shaking a rattle, repeatedly throwing an object that we give it, crawling on the ground, smiling, etc. If after an action that they do, something happens that is stimulating for them, they repeat it over and over again.
Through these games children explore the world around them, manipulate and sensorially explore objects (when they bite into a toy they discover its hardness, texture, temperature ...), and their social development develops and favors.
This type of game favors their psychomotor development (when they crawl, crawl or run), sensory development, social interaction (when they look for the adult to play with him), the development of language and communication, they learn notions such as the permanence of the object (when we play hide toys, for example), etc.
Many of the great learning and evolutionary milestones in the childhood stage They are achieved through play, and that is why it is very important to let children explore their environment, that we let them manipulate various objects, that we talk to them, sing to them ...
Another type of game, the symbolic game, occurs between 2 and 7 years, and consists of simulating situations, objects and characters that are not present at the time of the game. That is, playing doctors, moms and dads, teachers, picking up a stick and making it a horse, or a brush and making it a telephone ...
Through these kinds of games children represent the reality around them and sometimes they also express their tensions and concerns, but also their interests. The broader their knowledge of the world, and the more experiences they have, the richer and more varied this type of game is.
Symbolic play contributes to the development of language in children, allows them to adopt different roles, assimilate the reality that surrounds them, favors their emotional, cognitive and social development ands an important marker of the child's developmental level.
Parallel to these two types of game, the game of rules and the game of construction are developed.
The use of the rules in games appears already in the symbolic game. In these games of rules players know what to do (for example, in "El Escondite Inglés"). Depending on the age of the children, these rules are more or less flexible.
The construction game appears around the first year of life and is performed simultaneously with the other types of play, and it also evolves over the years. It involves different activities such as making towers with stackable toys, playing with pieces that fit together, toys that allow creating airplanes, a house and others, etc.
The relationships with peers in the child's play also evolve change. Before reaching shared play, the relationships that are established between children go through a series of stages: individual play (up to 2 years), parallel play in which children play closely but do not interact (from 2 to 4 years years), and shared play, which we began to see from the age of 4.
Knowing what children's play is like and how it is related to their motor, cognitive, affective and social development is of great help for parents and educators, since it will allow us to provide children quality gaming experiences. And, the game has many benefits for children. Here are some of them.
1. The game facilitates and encourages proper development of the smallest.
2. Besides the game is the learning vehicle par excellence, while children play they learn. His first learnings are based on play, so we should not lose sight of his role in teaching as a pedagogical and didactic tool.
3. On the other hand, the game is a powerful therapeutic and reeducation tool.
4. In addition, the game can also serve as an instrument for evaluate development of the kids.
So it is essential that children play. You should not miss a little bit of daily play, not only at school, but at home, with parents, siblings, friends or by themselves, but let them play.
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