Play is a child's primary Occupation

Play is a child’s primary occupation, but why is it so important for kids to play?

As you know we at Ability Focus OT are big believers and advocates for play.

But why is play so important???

Playing is one of the most important things you can do with your child. The time you spend playing together gives your child lots of different ways and times to learn.

Play also helps your child:

– build confidence
– feel loved, happy and safe
– develop social skills, language and communication
– learn about caring for others and the environment
– develop physical skills, sensory motor skills and fine motor skills

– promote problem solving
– connect and refine pathways in her brain

– helps develop some of the building blocks for literacy development


If your child doesn’t want to play?

There might be times when your child doesn’t want to play – for example, she could be tired or bored by doing the same activity for too long. This is normal and usually nothing to worry about.

But sometimes a lack of play – or a lack of interest in play – can be a sign of a more serious developmental disorder.

What can you do when playing with your child?

  • Follow your child’s lead / interests when trying to encourage their play. Things that are motivating to a child, help develop the brain’s pathways for learning and regulation.
  • Model play – kids love imitating and is a great way to develop those motor plans for movement experiences.
  • Be playful – have fun with your child….don’t overthink it!
  • Use everyday household items…you don’t need to go buy all new toys (e.g. boxes, tubs, blankets are all great items to promote pretend play skills).
  • Encourage repetition when learning to play as this helps build the skills to develop more complex play themes.

Consider speaking with a health professional if:

  • Your baby doesn’t seem to get into interactive play (such as peekaboo)
  • Your toddler has only a narrow interest in toys, or doesn’t use toys in a functional way – for example, is only interested in spinning the wheels of a toy car instead of driving it around the room like other children the same age
  • Your pre-schooler isn’t interested in playing with other children, or isn’t interested in playing pretend games.

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