Social Development & Play Skills

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:

  • Thinking
  • Experimenting
  • 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.