What is Play?

You may think this is a silly question and perhaps you are right.  However, I do talk a lot about play on here on simply.cindy and I want you to really understand exactly the type of play I am writing about.  So let’s see if you and I have the same thoughts in answer to the question “What is play?”

According to wikipedia  play is “a range of voluntary, intrinsically motivated activities normally associated with recreational pleasure and enjoyment.”  And wikipedia further states “not only does play promote and aid in physical development but it also aids in cognitive development and social skills…”

When I refer to play, I am talking about self-directed, intrinsically motivated, uninterrupted play.


What do I mean by self-directed, you ask?  I mean that the children, not the adults, are making all the decisions, coming up with the ideas and really being the leaders of the play. Adults may give support, add props or offer guidance or suggestions but that is all. Ideas and suggestions from adults can be important where children are so inexperienced that they are unaware of ideas that they can try.  So as I see it, sometimes the adults’ job is to make children aware of possible play opportunities.  In the preschool setting, I do this by setting out something for children to explore.  I also view the adult role as not one of leadership but one of helpful assistant or silent observer.

What do I mean by intrinsically motivated?  I mean that the child has chosen this activity freely based on his or her own interests.  The child is not told to do the activity.  The child has a choice.

What do I mean by uninterrupted?  I mean that children have lots of time to play.  How would you like to start a project like sewing or cooking, wood working or gardening and about 10 minutes later be told you need to stop?  Frustrated, right?  So children need time.  Lots of time.

What are your thoughts on play?

I will leave you with a quote…

“Play turns out to be so stunningly essential to childhood its like love, sunshine and broccoli all juiced together.”  -Lenore Skenazy


3 thoughts on “What is Play?

  1. Love this! I have been working with children for over 20 years and I know all about Play! It is so essential in a child’s life not to mention an adult! Thanks for sharing!


  2. Interesting. On weekdays, I don’t get much chance to spend time with my son but on weekends, I’m all reserved. As I watch him play with his cousins almost all day long. Keeping an eye on them and making sure they play in peace and harmony is what I do.
    This also relaxes up my mind too, you know!!

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.