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The Importance of Play in Early Learning

            The importance of play is stemmed from the contribution it makes towards an early years' physical, cognitive, social and emotional well-being (Ginsburg, 2005). Play provides Early Years children the opportunity to express their ideas, symbolise and test their knowledge of the world around them; play provides a basis for inquiry in science, maths, literacy, art, music and movement. Therefore, children become active learners through play and engage in explorations about themselves, their personal-social world and their community. Outdoor play is a crucially important needed activity in the early childhood as it is the building block of a child's intellectual skills and helps develop their physical, emotional and social skills. According to Hutt et al (1989, p.10) early years emotional and social development depends vitally upon outdoor play. Strickland et al (2003, p.2) states that outdoor play is critical to the social development of early years' children, mainly during 3-4 years and particularly girls in terms of building confidence. This view is supported by Johnson et al (2002) in that young children gain a variety of opportunities during outdoor play to develop their social skills and social competences (such as jumping, running, climbing, hide and seek and explore the natural world unchallenged). .
             In addition, most theorists found that outdoor pretend play was the most dominant and influential form of play (Bilton, 2002); Vygotsky and Piaget assert that pretend play provides young children with the opportunity to practice grown up and perspective talking (Ashiabi, 2007, p.2002). Furthermore, outdoor play is important for early years as it helps increase their physical development, which is crucial in helping prevent early childhood obesity (Pillar, 2010). According to Stewart (2010) outdoor play helps children maintain a healthy weight, this is because when they run, jump, climb, ride bikes etc.

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