Parenting All Play and No Work?

All Play and No Work?

2016 Jan 18

As parents with pressing responsibilities around the clock, do we pay attention to our children playing? Yes! I said playing. Is playtime a regular part of your child’s routine? Or is the burden of supervising during free play time, forcing us to opt for television time instead?

Play constitutes for significant learning in the child’s life, especially in early childhood. Here are some of the ways a child not only enjoys play time but also develops physically, socially, emotionally, cognitively and psychologically. Understanding this important part of your child’s life may help you encourage effective play in your child’s daily routine. In one act of play, a child may be integrating one or more of these types of play.

  • Physical play– this type of play begins almost immediately after a child learns to be mobile. A child’s gross motor develops significantly with this type of play enabling the child to refine the much needed fine motor skills as well. Examples of such play begin from just kicking and hand flapping in infants to throwing ball, running, and jumping in toddlers and older children.


  • Imaginary play – this type of play encourages young minds to explore their imagination. It could be in the form of creating an object using playdough, staging a theater production and assuming roles and personalities in varying situations. This type of play helps the child to move from the concrete and explore the abstract; a skill much needed for later development
  • Games with rules – These are an important form of development for children. They help a child understand the skill of turn taking and if guided well, the understanding that rules in such games are not a way to ruin the fun rather to maximize it. It also helps build interactive skills.
  • Play that involves language – From the babbling and cooing of an infant to a toddler identifying objects in a book and a child forming words on a scrabble board, language is growing in equally important stages. It is important that we as parents encourage language in all types of play to help build our child’s vocabulary.

We also need to be conscious of our children’s time spent in independent play and interactive play. Both forms of play assist a child’s growth is different ways. While independent play teaches a child to explore his imagination and enjoy his own company, interactive play teaches him the importance of social skills. We must take care to encourage both forms of play equally and resist the urge to always amuse our children during playtime.

All play and no work isn’t really a fact about your child, if you can structure his play time with a keener understanding of what play can actually do for your child’s overall development. Play is serious work for your child. He just doesn’tknow it!

So the next time you think about discouraging your child from playing, think again! The damage you incur may not just be a momentary tantrum!

Joanne Sathyadass is a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Journalism, Psychology and English Literature from the University of Bangalore now serving as a Special Needs Educator

For any queries please email Joanne on