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How Does A Child's Play Relate To Having A Job?

Updated on September 28, 2012
When a child plays he or she is working to develop social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills.
When a child plays he or she is working to develop social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills.

Play Is A Child's Job

As adults we spend most of our day working through problems to find solutions, and in the same manner a child will play to discover the answer to their questions (problems). It is their "job" during this stage of life. Play leads to developing those skills needed to read and write. It also sets the stage for a successful learning experience in school.

Picture a small child playing with water and a cup over a small bucket. The movements are repetitive; they will scoop up the water with the cup, tip the cup over and watch it slowly pour back into the bucket over and over again. Occasionally, they will pour the water over their hand and watch it slip through their fingers or they will splash the water to feel its coolness. It is a fun play activity but it is also the way a child learns.

Repetitive play allows your child to experience cause and effect, which is a valuable problem solving skill in understanding their environment. In this play activity, a child also learns about gravity, texture and sound.

Physical play is a basic mode of learning that helps a child to develop large motor skills and dexterity through running, jumping, climbing, crawling and stretching. When a child interacts with other children through play, the experience supports a healthy, positive emotional mindset, if it is positively guided. Through play, they work to understand rules, cooperation and negotiation skills.

They may be playing, but they are working hard to understand and learn life skills.

Stages of Play In Child Development

Solitary Play: Infancy through toddler age. Independent play where child plays alone with toys.

Parallel Play: Toddlers through Preschool age. Child plays side by side with other children, but does not become involved in group play.

Associative Play: Older Toddlers through Preschool age. Children playing with similar goals and toys but do not set play rules or organization.

Cooperative Play: Late Preschool age. Children play with each other in organized play and set goals. At least one child is the leader, defined play groups.

Onlooker Play: Late Toddler Age. Child who may watch play activities but does not engage in play with others.

Source: Health Of

Why Is A Child's Job Important?

The Encyclopedia of Children's Health defines play as the work of children. It consists of those activities performed for self-amusement that have behavioral, social, and psychomotor rewards. it is child-directed, and the rewards come from within the individual child; it is enjoyable and spontaneous. it is important to child development.

In today's world of high tech-toys, young children as early as two have access to pre-programmed play activities such as computers, ipads, and video games. They are fun, but they leave little for a child's imagination and creativity through play. Additionally, it sets a child up to experience competitive play and failure at an early age. This is not age appropriate as it tends to lead to frustration, feelings of inferiority and a lack of self-confidence.

Play should should allow a child the freedom to explore, to make decisions, to express their feelings in a positive way. Play should be whimsical and without restraints and should support a child's growth and development. If an activity does not promote positive emotional, social, physical and cognitive development it is not contributing to the healthy well-being of a child.

How To Understand Your Child's Job (Play)

Adult and child play together, the adult is not just observing play
Rolling balls back and forth, do a puzzle, dance
Determine play skill level by watching child's preference in activities
Does the child prefer to play quietly? Play with others? Do they like active play such as climbing or jumping?
Play at the child's level. Join them but let her/him be in control and lead the play activity.
Jump up and down with them. Follow their lead on how much to jump. Do they want to jump in circles or just hop?
Allow child to play creatively with toys. Follow along.
Is the stuffed bear a policeman to them? Pretend it is and play along. Do they want to use the brush to splatter paint on the canvas? Join in.
Source: Community Playthings, Learning Through Play, D. Elkind, PhD
Watercolor is a fun play form that allows a child to express himself freely.  As he works he is developing his fine motor skills and learning how to balance colors.
Watercolor is a fun play form that allows a child to express himself freely. As he works he is developing his fine motor skills and learning how to balance colors.

Child's Play Is An Important Job/Learning Opportunity

Making A Child's Job A Fun Learning Experience

Parents can provide play activities that stimulate learning leading to physical, emotional, social, moral, and cognitive development. Through self-created experience, children satisfy their curiosity through exploration, but also begin to establish academic learning. For example, a child building a tower with simple blocks will discover classification and counting (cardinal and ordinal numbers). The following suggestions are creative forms of play for children that encompass either physical, expressive, manipulative (objects), symbolic or dramatic play categories.

  • Physical: Hide & Seek, Tag, Red-Rover, Simon Says
  • Expressive: Water Color, Finger Paint, Crayons, Markers, Clay, Rhythm instruments, Shaving Cream
  • Manipulative: Puzzles, Blocks, Shapes, Toy cars, small dolls, dressing boards, spools & laces, books
  • Symbolic: Role play with toys, i.e., pretend to play mommy or daddy with dolls
  • Dramatic: Pots, pans, dishes, cash register, hats, shoes, tote bags, wigs, baskets, calculators

Parents should play with children when possible to create a strong relationship between parent and child. While playing with your child, ask them open-ended questions to challenge creative thinking and build problem solving skills. Remember that the play activity and toys must be age appropriate. In other words, the play must fit the child's play level and interest. Allow your child to guide your play time together, this will help him or her to learn decision making and give them some sense of control. Above all, have fun!

© Copyright, Dianna Mendez (Teaches12345), 2012

How To Choose Toys That Stimulate Learning


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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      So funny, Alocsin! Pretend play is fun, even if it leads to reality at times. Enjoy your day.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Never thought of child's play as a job, which it certainly is. But I can remember pretending to actually have a job when I was a kid and going through the motions. If only I knew then what I know now about having a job, I probably wouldn't have been so eager to get one in real life. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thanks, Kenny, for the support of this idea. Children need an early start on how to make good decisions, play contributes to this. My week is going well... hope yours is the same.

    • kennynext profile image

      kennynext 5 years ago from Everywhere

      Keeping the children learning is what it is all about. They will be the future of this world and we need to teach them well. Hope your week is going good.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thanks, Robin, for stopping in here tonight. I appreciate your insight on the topic and comment. Yes, children need to play every day in order to develop healthy bodies and brains. Take care and keep safe.

    • RobinGrosswirth23 profile image

      Robin Grosswirth 5 years ago from New York

      A great hub, Dianna. I voted up and will share this on Twitter and Facebook. This is quite useful and necessary to understand that children need to play in order to grow their brains and properly develop.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thanks, Deborah, for your visit and encouragement. God bless you too!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      ANOTHER EXCELLENT HUB AND WHAT GREAT UNDERSTANDING about children.. I love to watch a child grow and learn and this hub said it all. God Bless you


    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      What a great bunch of kids. I think that they will be future leaders with such a positive family environment to encourage their play. Thanks for stopping by here. Enjoy your weekend, Leah.

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      I love watching my children play, Teaches12345. It reveals so much about their personalities and affinities. My older son loved puzzles and cars as a toddler, and then moved quickly onto Legos and other building toys. He can build the "for ages 8-14" sets even though he is only six - he'll spend hours at it. He's a little engineer! Or architect! My five year old loves creative, pretend play and makes up stories - he's my little writer (or lawyer, since he loves to argue)!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thanks for stopping by, Unknown. I always enjoy watching children play and learn.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      very true. you did a great job explaining to us and giving us the ideas about these things.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I am glad to hear the content is comprehensive to readers. Play is so important in a child's life in learning valuable skills. Thank you, Millionaire, for adding to the topic.

      Drbj, I love your expression - a good play on words! Take care.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      This is excellent and exhaustive information for new parents, Dianna. Thank you for your considerable research and effort. You take the hard work out of play.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      I always thought play was, well, just play until I saw a commercial that showed that children could actually learn skills through play. You've now provided a more detailed explanation about what types of skills are being learned by what kind of play. We can all incorporate these different ways to play with the children in our lives to help them learn. Voted up.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Mama Kim, I am glad this will help you to raise your children. I know your children are blessed to have you so involved in their life values. Thanks for your support and have a wonderful day with your children.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for yet another hub that helps me grow as a mother ^_^ Every little piece of knowledge I have will help my children become all they can be. Thank you, voting and sharing!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Girishpuri, thank you friend for your support. Play is so important in child's daily life as it stimulates reasoning. Take care.

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 5 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      Indeed you are right plying is very important for the overall growth of the child, your suggestions to the parents are very useful and helping, voted up and above.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Teachable, I think you can see a clearer picture of this in infant play. They concentrate so hard on getting that ball, or moving the toy, shaking the rattle, etc., it's work for them.

    • TeachableMoments profile image

      TeachableMoments 5 years ago from California

      Teaches, I was hooked after reading your first paragraph. During my parent-teacher conferences parents will often laugh when I refer to their child's play as being "work." Often I need to explain to parents that their children are not just playing, they are learning valuable lessons. I appreciate how you explain the importance of play, how you validate a child's work. Voted up!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thank you, Kelley, Rosemay and TeacherJoe for your add to the hub topic. I know each of you have great experience in this area and I value your support. Blessings!

    • teacherjoe52 profile image

      teacherjoe52 5 years ago

      Hi teaches.

      I love to freelance with children.

      Say bring out a cardboard box and see what they will make with it.Maybe after reading a story about castles see if we can build one. To make a very bad drawing and see how they can improve it. They are much more talented than me and they enjoy teaching teacher how to say make a mask from a cardboard box.

      A great article filled with extremely useful ideas.

      God bless you.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      An excellent hub Dianna. Play is so important for a childs development, but also in learning to share, compromise and how to interact with others. All of these atributes will give them a good grounding for when the time comes to start a working life.

      You have explained in detail the types of play and given some wonderful advice that will be very helpful to young moms.

      Voting up

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Great hub teaches, as always. My boys must be working overtime because all they do is play:). Really play is the work of the child and play can even entail work around the house. They love to help vacuum and dust. Voted up across and pinned. Take care, Kelley

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Jen, you and I are in agreement on that -- they learn while they play and parents must allow for this in their daily routines. You take care now.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hey, RTalloni, thank you for such a nice supportive look at the hub. Have a great evening.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thanks, Mary, for your coming by and for your supportive votes, pin and tweet. God bless you, lady!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Glimmer, it is such a blessing to have a child and to be able to discover the world through their eyes as they play. Glad you had this in your life. Enjoy your evening.

    • jenbeach21 profile image

      jenbeach21 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      A very useful hub. Many people forget that for children their job is to play and that is how they learn. Great information!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      An excellent look at the importance of child's play! The info is well covered with outstanding tips for parents and teachers. Another top hub from you that's worth remembering for using and sharing with others.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      After raising children, grandchildren and now a grandchild, I certainly agree that play is work for children. This was anothe wonderful Hub by you about children; much appreciated.

      I Voted UP, will share, Pin and Tweet.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Awesome hub with great information. Also beautifully laid out. One of favorite things to do when my daughter was younger (and sometimes even now though it's harder) was to watch her play. It always fascinated me.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thanks for your support on this point, Sturgeonl. I do not oppose technology in providing entertainment and educational learning, just have to limit the usage. The AMA states that two hours of electronics, including TV, ipad, iphone, videos, etc., for children per day is enough. I agree. You can't beat physical, active play in providing children enrichment in gaining life skills.

    • Sturgeonl profile image

      Sturgeonl 5 years ago

      I appreciate the point you made about high-tech toys. It is true that these toys provide pre-programed play experiences and lack opportunities in other important areas i.e. social, emotional, physical, cognitive, creativity, etc. Your highlighting the importance of play to support development in these areas is very valuable information for parents and educators to remember in this high-tech world. Great always!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hello, Vinaya Thank you for the compliment on the hub and for your encouragement. Take care and be well.

      Eiddwen, I appreciate your support. Enjoy your day's journey.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      A brilliant hub teaches as always. Here's to so many more to share on here.


    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Your understanding of child psychology is wonderful. Good hub.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Always good to see you, Alicia. Thanks for coming in to visit and leaving your support of the topic. Have a prosperous day and enjoy it well!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Bill, thank you for your positive support. Let's hope parents can grasp onto the importance of providing physical play to stimulate learning. Too much tech stifles growth. Be well and strong!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an excellent analysis of play and learning in children, teaches. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge about child development.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A great analysis Dianna! Years of experience went into this hub and parents everywhere would be well-advised to follow your words. Fantastic hub!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hey, Pamela! I think we some times miss how important it is to provide children physical play activities. They learn and develop so much through this type of play. Thank you for your support of the topic. Enjoy your day's journey, friend.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Janine, it is fascinating to see this transition in play isn't it? I am sure that the younger one will learn to play at a higher level much faster through this. Thank you so much for your vote, sharing and tweeting the hub. You are a great support to me.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Faith, I love your last statement: they need to be able to create and mold with their own little hands. This is really getting to the basics, allow them to be in physical touch with their learning through trial & error. Blessings!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Anil and Honey, a good future is what it's all about when children learn through play. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated here. Be well and strong.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      REmaniki, tech games are fun and educational, but the ability to stimulate creativity and decision making is limited. Thanks for adding to the message. Have a wonderful day!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Vellur, I agree. Kids learn much better when the play is physically stimulating. Great add to the topic. Enjoy your day.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Good morning, Dwachira. Play was something that I made sure I did at some point in the day with my son when he was young. It helped me understand his thoughts, but also it was fun just playing together. Your thoughts are added value here, friend.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      This is an excellent article on how children actually learn. I always tried. I think this is very good information for all teachers and parents to know and understand. Outstanding hub!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      So very true Dianna. My 3 year old just started pre-school and I already see the difference in the way she plays with her sister. She used to do more parallel play, but now she is starting to venture out a bit and try to play cooperatively with her younger sister. It is so very interesting though to see them play together and I guess as a parent I do enjoy seeing the world through their eyes at times. Have of course voted, shared and tweeted too!!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Morning teaches - what an excellent write here. I need to give this to my son with his two daughters. I agree that children's play today is much different than back in the day, before all the technology, and I agree with you so very much in that area for their development. The section on the stages of play is very interesting. They need to be able to be creative and mold and make stuff with their own little hands and minds. Voted Up In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • Anil and Honey profile image

      Anil 5 years ago from Kerala

      Yes, through this a child can develop his imaginations and creativity.That will help him to hold a good future.

    • remaniki profile image

      Rema T V 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      Excellent hub Dianna. You have explained the importance of play very well. I totally agree with what you said about exposure of children to computer games. I think that there is no learning involved while playing computer games except maybe for the improvement of one's reflex.

      Nothing can match a child's physical play which s/he enjoys and the outcome being the development of both motor skills and the intellect.

      Fine hub. Cheers, Rema.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Very true physical play is very essential and plays an important role in a child's growth and development as a whole. Children learn and apply what they learn when there is physical play involved. Great hub useful and full of interesting ideas. Voted up and shared.

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Hi teaches12345, this is a great write up, it is true, playing is very important to the development of a child. While kids playing with their peers is important, parents should also spare some time and play with their kids too because it is not only important but it also help in bonding. Voted up, useful and shared.