How Does Play Impact Child Development?

How Does Play Impact Child Development?

Running, swinging, sliding, and climbing are activities for all children. Playing provides an avenue for children to expend energy, interact with other children, and have some fun. Play offers a great opportunity for children of different ages to develop their social, physical, cognitive, and emotional skills.

Play is an essential stage in child development, and research proves that free play, especially outdoor play, helps children relieve stress and boost self confidence. Play also helps children get stronger physically while assisting them in maintaining a healthy weight. It is crucial in teaching children social skills and independence and helps in improving conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). There isn’t a set amount of play for different age levels, but science has proven the benefits of play for each stage of child development.

Ages 1-3: The Toddler Years

A lot of growth and significant milestones happen during the toddler stage. Play is crucial for developing gross and fine motor skills such as balance, muscle control, and coordination. In the early years of the toddler stage, the child is learning how to stand and walk.

The child learns to walk with some assistance, and how to stay upright in different terrains. Exploring stairs, throwing a ball, jumping, and climbing come in the middle of the toddler stage. Towards the end of this stage, a child can run, kick a ball and play on ladders, slides, and swings.

Ages 4-6: The Early Childhood Years

In this stage, children have more developed fine and gross motor skills. They have better balance and coordination. They can kick, throw and bounce a ball accurately, climb on indoor playground equipment and trees and jump from a height. They can pedal on bikes, hop on one foot and keep their balance on a beam.

For children in this stage, play helps to develop their balance and coordination skills further while also improving their social skills and independence. Play teaches them to freely use their imagination and choose the activities they want to do and the friends they want to play with. 

Age 7-9: The School-Age Years

In this stage, they are bigger, stronger, and have more stamina. Their fine and gross motor skills are more refined. Play in this age group teaches them about competition. Boys in this stage love to play ball and run while girls enjoy dramatic and imaginative play. Children in this stage enjoy playground equipment with covered spaces for hide and seek hideouts, etc. They are independent and like to have support from adults without interference.

Children in this stage require 60 minutes of either medium or high-intensity play each day. Ideally, they should engage in high-intensity play, to strengthen their muscles and bones, three days a week.

Ages 10-12: The Pre-teen Years

Play at this stage is essential. It keeps the pre-teens healthy and aids them in maintaining an ideal body image and weight. Play also boosts their mood, self-esteem, and confidence levels. Daily play, structured (such as team sports) or unstructured (such as playground play), allows the pre-teens to have fun and relieves their stress and anxiety.

Ages 13+: The Teenage Years

This age group needs to get proper exercise, nutrition, and sufficient sleep. Play keeps the teens healthy and relieves their stress and anxiety while keeping them busy. Teens who engage in structured sports do better at academics and are less likely to be at loggerheads with their parents. During this stage, teens are preoccupied with their body image and play is an excellent way to keep their body weight stable.

Fitness Kid has high quality indoor home gyms and play equipment suitable for children of all ages. Contact us at 833-FIT-KID or email us at for any queries or orders.