Benefits of Play

Play helps children develop a wide variety of skills. Play is a valuable opportunity for children to practice focusing attention on a single task. Although a child’s attention span develops naturally over time, engaging in play supports this skill. Play is a child-directed activity. Children choose to play, what and how to play, how long to play, and when to switch activities. By having the opportunity to make these choices, children learn how to focus on play activities for various amounts of time.

Children practice a wide variety of skills during play, including

  • gross motor skills — big movements of the arms, legs, and trunk
  • fine motor skills — small movements of the hands, fingers, mouth, and tongue
  • eye-hand coordination
  • visual tracking — following objects with both eyes

Play also helps children develop cognitive and language skills, such as

  • creative thinking
  • reasoning
  • problem-solving
  • planning and decision making
  • listening
  • communicating