The Relationship Between Play and Childhood Development From Birth Through Preschool-aged Children


The vigorous developmental changes that preschoolers face in the course of their development makes them prone to emotional and behavioral challenges. However, some preschoolers experience transient challenges in the course of their development. Some soon outgrow them, but others face long-term challenges. Current knowledge on preschooler’s behaviors is quite in shambles in aspects of play and problem synthesis. It is significant that play contributes a lot towards childhood development in mental and physical developments. 

The preschool age bracket is the best time to early recognize the problem signs and address them before they mature to permanent patterns. Since the preschooler period provides an avenue for early screening for emotional challenges in children, more focus should be accorded to the preschool mentor’s view of emotional and behavioral challenges which they address to be very demanding (Poulou, 2015). 

In the ancient times, the Chinese children were granted the autonomy to choose and initiate the physical activity they wanted to engage themselves in. The current scholars in early childhood development, as well as health professionals globally, attest to the fact that physical development activities in our children is at risk due to the progressive decline in children physical activities in the quality of outdoor surroundings. Outdoor play is deemed as being structured or free physical activity occurring in the external environment. For the Chinese preschool outdoor play constitutes morning exercises, physical education and free plays (Hu, Kong, & Roberts, 2014).

Others believe that in outdoor surrounding free play is the most appropriate means to promote physical development as well help to prevent obesity. Evidence of the soaring cases of childhood obesity by research attributes a decline in free play to television and other digital media exposure (Kennedy-Behr, Rodger, & Mickan, 2013).

The decline in quality of play significant impact on children’s physical wellness and fitness. The survey conducted in 2014 depicted that Chinese children had a high pass rate of over 92% for competency in fitness with sex, regions and rural or urban effects acting as variation factors (Hu et al., 2014). To scale up the quality of outdoor play in China, safe outdoor playgrounds have been created to meet the shortcomings in technology and sedentary lifestyle of the new millennium. The government fund equips the play spaces with toys and other play stationery to improve accessibility and quality for the susceptible groups (Hu et al., 2014).

Outdoor play is linked with better social play, and more degree of complex peer play in comparison to indoor play. The greater physical energy required in activities like climbing and running may hinder the ability of preschoolers to perform more complex social and motor play atypical with this surrounding (Hu et al., 2014).

Play significantly impacts on the cognitive, physical and emotional developments of children including the social aspects and offers a key ground for social participation. These can be affected by conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism. Developmental coordination disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects over 5% of children. It affects the motor abilities of children to involve themselves in activities including play (Kennedy-Behr et al., 2013). Preschoolers with this developmental disorder are less engaged in play compared with their counterparts and that the withdrawal that is noted to come later in childhood commences at preschool age. Therefore, therapies that focus on preschoolers is meant to help those with the disorder to participate in a play at the same level as other typical counterparts.

In conclusion, play improves the development of a child. The games children are exposed to especially outdoor games gives the children experience to handle future instances. Despite that some disorders physically challenge some children, therapies should be initiated to help the individuals to participate in play for proper development. 

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  1. Hu, B. Y., Kong, Z., & Roberts, S. K. (2014). The policies and practice of preschoolers’ outdoor play: a Chinese perspective on greeting the millennium. Childhood Education, 90(3), 202–211.
  2. Kennedy-Behr, A., Rodger, S., & Mickan, S. (2013). A comparison of the play skills of preschool children with and without developmental coordination disorder. OTJR: Occupation, Participation, and Health, 33(4), 198–208.
  3. Poulou, M. S. (2015). Emotional and behavioral difficulties in preschool. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(2), 225–236.
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