Research on Play


Dwelling in Possibility: The Importance of Play in Early Child Development
Nicole Stone
Arizona State University
I dwell in possibility
      A fairer house than prose
      More numerous of windows
      Superior of doors
      -Emily Dickenson

Dwelling in Possibility: The Importance of Play in Early Child Development

Engaging in play is a vital part of development throughout childhood, providing children with a place to dwell that is as far and wide as their imagination can take them.   Engaging in play provides opportunities for children to grow in areas of gross and fine motor skills, cognitive functioning, necessary physical exertion, social skill development, and language acquisition.   The role of play in child development has long been discussed among social scientists, and pioneers in the field such as Piaget and Vygotsky have spoken to its importance.   Play has been analyzed and compartmentalized by age.   In many ways it has changed through time and technology, but the wonder and excitement accompanying a child’s discovery of something novel, a new object of play, is timeless.   Play is not specific to any geographic location, socioeconomic class, or ethnicity.   Play opens its numerous windows and doors to any child and it is a social worker’s duty to ensure that the child is allowed to dwell there for as long as he/she developmentally needs.   In order to gain a better understanding of the importance of play in early childhood development, we must look at established theories, analyze current research, and apply it to the children we encounter.
Many former theorists observed play and formed explanations for it.   In 1932, Mildred Parten observed and sorted play into six categories that we still use today.   She believed that young children first engage in unoccupied and solitary play.   The former describes play that is not goal directed and the latter describes play...