Childhood Day: importance of play for children

On August 24, a very important date is celebrated: Childhood Day . For those who do not know, this date proposes to spread the reflection on the social, economic and educational conditions of children from all over the world.

According to UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), every child has 10 fundamental rights – and you can check which ones are below:

  1. Principle I: Right to equality, regardless of race, religion or nationality.
  2. Principle II: Right to special protection for their physical, mental and social development.
  3. Principle III: Right to a name and nationality.
  4. Principle IV:  Right to adequate food, housing and medical care for the child and mother.
  5. Principle V: Right to education and special care for the physically or mentally disabled child.
  6. Principle VI:  Right to love and understanding by parents and society.
  7. Principle VII: Right to free education and children’s leisure.
  8. Principle VIII: Right to be rescued first, in the event of disasters.
  9. Principle IX: Right to be protected against abandonment and exploitation at work.
  10. Principle X: Right to grow in a spirit of solidarity, understanding, friendship and justice between peoples.

In view of these principles, we decided to address a topic that had been discussed for many years: the importance of playing.

After all, how important is play for a child? How can it help your physical and mental development? Find out below:


The first questions about playing

Since the end of the 19th century, this subject has been the subject of good discussion. This is because the French psychologist and philosopher Henri Wallon, the Swiss biologist Jean Piaget and the Belarusian psychologist Lev Vygotsky wanted to understand how children related to the world and how they managed to produce culture.

When investigating this reality of the little ones, they found that the form of communication between them and the world was through games and it was through them that they expressed themselves culturally.

Each of these researchers discovered a more interesting – and curious – subject than the other:

  • Wallon: Learning is not just about teaching. She also needs affection and movement.
  • Piaget: Children in the younger age group make discoveries with repetitive experiments and activities, while those in the older age group deal with the challenge of understanding each other.
  • Vygotsky: For culture to be produced, interpersonal processes are necessary, that is, the development of only one of the children is not enough, but there must be several relationships within a group composed of them.

A fourth researcher from that same time, the Dutch philosopher and historian Johan Huizinga, decided to focus his studies on the issue of playing games.

According to him, games are part of all phases of a person’s life and are at the basis of the emergence and development of civilization, even to organize societies culturally.

The French philosopher Gilles Brougère – the most recent, 1970 – dedicated himself to researching the relationship that children have with their toys.

Based on his research, Brougère argues that play needs a social context for it to occur, even though it is part of the essence of any human being.

These scholars are just some of those who dedicated themselves – and still are – to try to understand children’s thinking.

In Brazil, research centers are also dedicated to the theme, as is the case of the Study and Research Group in Psychopedagogy (Gepesp) at Unicamp.

What does it mean and what is the importance of playing

Play – or play – is defined as any spontaneous or organized activity that provides entertainment, pleasure, fun or diversion (of something that is currently happening in your life, for example).

According to Principle VII of the Rights of Children – which we have listed above – “children will be given an education that favors their general culture and allows them – under conditions of equal opportunities – to develop their skills and individuality their sense of social and moral responsibility ”.

In addition, this Principle also states that “the child must fully enjoy games and play which should be directed towards education”.

When a child plays, he is relating and engaging with his environment in a safe context, where his own ideas and behaviors can be combined and practiced.

In addition, through play, she increases her problem-solving and flexible thinking, learns to process and display her emotions and also faces the fear of interacting with others.

Playing has a bias that goes far beyond fantasy. In other words, while an adult sees the little one simply stacking blocks, in fact that is making him experience possibilities of building and discovering new colors, shapes and textures .

“It is an investment,” says anthropologist, popular educator and folklorist Tião Rocha, from the Popular Center for Culture and Development, located in Minas Gerais.

As Piaget had already said there in the 19th century, each age group stimulates a type of skill. See what they are:

Children under 3 years

The ideal for this age group are the games that stimulate the senses, because through them, children explore and discover colors, textures, sounds, smells and tasty that are present around them.

Children around 3 years old

From that age, children develop another type of play – make-believe. In them, everyday situations are imitated and make the children deal with problems and solutions that go from imaginary doing to real learning.

Children from 5 years

From that age, children are able to include other children in their play. With that, they learn to relate and to create the ability to divide.

From these definitions of the skills developed in each age group, see what types of games can be performed in each of them:


From 0 to 2 years old the child can perform activities related to the sensorimotor period: motor exploration, sensation / senses and stimulation.

Children, in this phase, have the following characteristics:

  • 1. Has an interest;
  • 2. It is curious;
  • 3. Know the name;
  • 4. It is negativistic;
  • 5. Play with each other.

From 2 to 3 years old the child can perform activities such as games, illustrated reading, stories, drawings, various objects, pretend, through demonstrations, with questions and answers, games without rules or with simple rules, imitations, movement and various games.

Children, in this phase, have the following characteristics:

  • 1. They are active;
  • 2. They are discovering things;
  • 3. They are sensitive;
  • 4. They are shy;
  • 5. They are imitators.

From 4 to 6 years old, games with or without rules, activities with movements, representations, clippings, research, creativity, group activities, dramatizations and illustrated stories can be proposed.

Children, in this phase, have the following characteristics:

  • 1. They are active;
  • 2. They are questioning;
  • 3. They are fearful;
  • 4. They are friendly;
  • 5. They are confident;
  • 6. They are more attentive;
  • 7. Are interested;
  • 8. They are more concentrated.

11 Reasons for your child to play at will

Now that you know what play provides for children’s development and education, it’s time to list 11 very cool reasons why your little one can play until he can’t. Come on?

1. Fight obesity

Outdoor play is essential for the child to explore larger spaces, move more and experience climatic variations.

Half an hour of catch, for example, uses an average of 225 calories. The same hopscotch time, uses about 135 calories.

According to Daniel Becker, from the UFRJ Institute of Pediatrics, the child’s coexistence with nature reduces obesity , attention deficit and hyperactivity, in addition to improving school performance.

2. Allows body self-knowledge

From a young age, children experience what the body – both yours and others’ – is capable of.

Luciane Motta, from Casa do Brincar (SP), says that if parents allow their children to run, trip, fall and get up again, they learn alone about their possibilities and limitations.

3. Stimulates optimism, cooperation and negotiation

If playing is so important, to the extent that UNICEF declares in the Rights of the Child, it is because it has an essential foundation, right? Psychiatrist Stuart Brown, from The National Institute for Play (California, USA), argues that playing “is a basic biological need that helps shape the brain. The most obvious advantage is the intensity of pleasure, something that energizes, animates and renews the natural sense of optimism ”.

4. Generates resilience

One of the most important emotional skills in anyone’s life, resilience is also developed through play. When the child loses in a game or when his little friend does not want to play the way he suggested, the ability to deal with frustration comes into play, making him adapt and develop from that .

5. Teaches you to have respect

By interacting with friends, parents or relatives through play, the child learns to respect, listen and understand others and their differences.

Gisela Wajskop, PhD in Education, says that: the adult who played a lot in his childhood is someone open to change , in addition to having more divergent thoughts and more easily accepting differences.

6. Develops attention and self-control

These skills are refined as the child grows, whether it is putting together a puzzle or balancing on one foot.

7. Put an end to boredom and sadness

Playing helps – a lot – in the child’s emotional stability. In a study by the University of Montreal (Canada), playing, for a child, is an opportunity to experience happiness, to combat boredom, sadness, fear and loneliness.

8. Encourages teamwork

We live in a world that is increasingly connected. For this reason, collective games are of great importance when it comes to developing this skill in children.

Games like football or burning make the little ones have the ability to relate to others , in addition to requiring them to think and act as part of a group.

9. Instigates strategic reasoning

Games that have pre-established rules, such as board games, make the child reason better each step he will take , in addition to making him argue more, wait and make decisions on his own.

10. Promotes creativity and imagination

Items such as boxes and buckets attract the attention of children – especially the smallest ones. This is because these objects do not induce a ready idea of ​​that and stimulate the imagination.

This skill can be developed through reading stories, playing with dolls or building a toy with scrap metal.

11. Establishes rules and limits

With playing, the child recognizes and learns to respect the limits of his space and also that of others, as well as learns to deal with the rules – an essential item for living together in society to be good.

Remember: play is a serious thing . Share it with your friends and spread the word too!