The play comes naturally to children (Brewer, 2001). From the time they are infants, the play is an activity that they engage in to learn about their world. Babies and toddlers display play in motion and we observe that they do it to get to know their world – how things work, how people react, etc. They get to explore and discover things that otherwise they will not learn about if they do not actively engage in play (Holland, 2003). Free play will not only stimulate a child’ s thinking, but it also develops his creativity as he will see in his mind endless possibilities in imaginatively transforming ordinary objects into various things with various functions (Holland, 2003). The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) (2007) recognizes the importance of play in childhood, as it provides many benefits.
The play is a child’ s world. It is an avenue where one can be free to be oneself without anyone imposing rules or restrictions to conform to society’ s standards. Play offers many benefits that foster children’ s learning. It engages the mind to actively imagine various scenarios for fun or for problem-solving.
Preschoolers and primary school children learn better in play-like settings because they retain concepts better when learned in the spirit of fun. They enjoy competitive games in testing their stock knowledge and even simulate game shows they watch on television in reviewing certain academic concepts. Such cognitive benefits extend to their real lives as they make decisions, compare and contrast things, use their imaginations and thinking critically and creatively (Macintyre, 2003). There is no single standard definition of play although many theorists have offered their own opinion.
Isaacs (1929) was one of the first known theorists to define play as the work of the child and educators who attempt to define play describe common features such as enjoyment, spontaneity and active engagement (Piaget, 1951; Garvey, 1977; Bruce, 2001). Moyles (1989) comments on how the play is valuable as an excellent learning medium and more recently Bruce (2001) regards play as “ the highest form of learning in early childhood” (p. 112).
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