As babies and children develop and grow, they learn about themselves and their environment. They learn this through play and exploration.
Babies learn through exploring their environment through their senses (hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch, movement). Early play can teach a baby about these senses, how to move and control their bodies. They may learn concepts such as object permanence (knowing object or person still exists even when it is not visible), cause and effect (how one action affects something else) and early language skills.
Play may be described as physical, play with objects, symbolic, pretend and games with rules. The benefits of play in childhood can be seen in all areas of a child's development (physical, social, emotional, cognitive, language and creative).
Occupational Therapists use play in both assessment and treatment of children. We are advocates for providing children with safe learning environments which promote play and learning. Children often don't realise that they are learning when they are having fun and absorbed in an activity!
You will find lots of suggestions for including play when promoting a child's learning and development below.