Social Development & Play Skills
Speaking of social and play skills, what are they?
Play is a critical part of children’s development. When a child plays they build many different skills, including:
- Language skills
- Social and emotional skills
- Problem-solving and thinking skills
Social skills are the skills we use every day to interact and communicate with others. Social skills play an important role in supporting a child’s overall development, including:
- Their ability to build friendships
- Their ability to copy and learn from others
- Allow them to express their wants, needs, thoughts, and ideas.
How do children benefit from play?
Play provides time for:
- Investigating objects and materials
- Planning and problem-solving
- Acting out life experiences (making sense of their world)
- Talking about their actions and intentions
- Taking on different roles
- Communicating with others
- Sharing emotions with others (noticing their reactions, anticipating and accommodating the needs and wants of others)
How can adults help?
Adults have an important role in children’s play:
- Recognizing when they want to play and when they want to stop
- Follow the child’s lead rather than telling them what to do
- Show your support by commenting on what they are doing
- Offer open-ended materials e.g. dress-up clothes, large cardboard boxes, blocks, natural materials such as sand or water
- Show your interest and involvement through what you say, your facial expression and your body language
A final thought…
In young children, studies have shown that:
- Better pretend play skills at age 3 and 4 are linked to better language skills at ages 8 and 9.
- The more varied and flexible a young child’s pretend play, the more advanced his thinking skills are at ages 8 and 9.