Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

The importance of play in the lives of young children:

It's play time, parents!
By Expert Tips
Date: August 30 2018
Editor Rating:
Motherpedia cover

In early childhood education, play has characteristically been regarded as the main way that young children learn. There are many forms of play including, block play, symbolic play, water play, and so on, each with their specific definitions and association with various different types of materials and activities. There are also other kinds, like ‘pretend’ play, which encapsulates dressing up, taking on a different persona, and creating dramatic scenarios in which the young child enacts actions that s/he has observed in some aspect of their lives. This might also be called dramatic play, role play, or socio-dramatic play, if other children are included in the scenarios.

In pretend play, the young child is not just taking on the ‘role’ of the character that they are playing with, or enacting. For them, they ‘are’ that person, animal or object, and the scenes that they create and perform, are a window into the ways in which they are interpreting the world, and how they are making meaning about the behaviours, actions and ideas that they experience. This is why it is important for young children to experience pretend play. In enacting these scenarios, we realise that pretend play creates learning contexts that are rich and varied. They help children to explore the experiences of others and in doing so, enables them to understand their own identities, and how they ‘fit’ into the world. They do this in a context of their own meaning making where they can engage in risk taking, planning, creating fantasies and examining ‘real world’ scenarios.

The catalysts for these scenarios and their relevance to young children’s lives will come from many, and varied, sources. What is different about learning in the 21st century is that it is multimodal. That is, children have opportunities to learn via all their senses in visual, aural, oral and kinaesthetic modalities, or other forms, including the use of new technologies. They will see and hear things that happen in their everyday lives, in the car, garden, or while shopping with their parents. They will also have access to toys, natural and man-made materials, books, TV, Apps, and other media which enable them not only to experience familiar things and events, but also expose them to amazing and fantastic stories from creative minds that explore the potential of things that might not be possible in everyday life. They will also have opportunities to express their ideas in these modalities; in plays, drawings, using music and movement and a range of other ways. The more varied the experiences, the greater the understandings they will acquire, as well as the possibilities of meaning making for deep learning to occur.

In creating contexts to support young children’s learning, educators are very aware that they need to have opportunities for the children to playfully explore in a wide variety of contexts with as many materials as they want to include. Teachers will enable young children to creatively and critically explore in rich and varied learning environments so that they are able to develop their own ideas, connect ideas and design their own strategies for action. Teachers often share the ways in which they do this with parents since they can use the strategies in their own interactions with their children.

The new focus for Peppa Pig ‘When I Grow Up’ programs has the potential to be a rich source of learning for young children. They already resonate with the character, her family and friends and will relate to the scenarios about roles and responsibilities that different citizens in our communities have. Children love watching Peppa and her friends in their various adventures and if they are able to see Peppa and her friends envisioning their future lives as farmers, fire personnel, doctors and various other professions they will be able to explore and experiment with these roles in embodied contexts that characterise pretend play. Additionally, with other toys and materials they will be able to extend this play into different modalities to creatively deepen their learning understandings about the world.

In addition, educators and parents will interact with the children as they are playing and engage them in conversations to extend their vocabulary, challenge their thinking and stimulate their curiosity. Such experiences constitute playful explorations in which the child is able to experiment with any ideas or materials that they want to and extend their play into the different dimensions with different materials and modalities. They are essential to healthy and creative childhoods and as educators and parents we strive to support this type of deep learning in contemporary times.


Nicola Yelland is the Professor of Early Childhood Studies in the College of Education, Psychology and Social Work at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia. Her teaching and research interests have been related to the use of new technologies in school and community contexts. She has also worked in East Asia and examined the culture and curriculum of early childhood settings. Nicola’s work engages with educational issues with regard to varying social, economic and political conditions and thus requires multidisciplinary perspectives. Recent publications include; Reimagining play with new technologies. In L. Arnott (Ed.) Digital technologies and learning in the early years. (London, UK: SAGE) and Yelland, N.J. & Leung, W.M. Policy into practice in Hong Kong pre-primary kindergartens: the impact of a reform agenda viewing early childhood as the foundation for lifelong learning. International Journal of Early Years. She is the editor of a new edited collection with Dana Franz-Bentley; Found in translation: Connecting reconceptualist thinking with contemporary early childhood practices. (New York: Routledge). Nicola is the founding co-editor of two journals Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood and Global Studies of Childhood and the Series Editor of Changing Images of Early Childhood with Routledge (New York). 

Share This Tweet This Email To Friend
Recent Comments
5 Total Comments
Chesyler says: 2018 09 26

If you want to know the importance of play in the live of the kids. Then you can give them permission if you want to know the important. This type my paper thing is help them in their better health and also improve many things in their time.

Becky says: 2018 10 06

Deep thought! Thanks for contuibrting.

Xannon says: 2018 10 26

That’s an expert answer to an inesrteting question xtbhic [link=]eoqboap[/link]

Lainey says: 2018 10 26

Artelcis like this just make me want to visit your website even more.

Cannon says: 2018 10 27

That’s an innillegett answer to a difficult question xxx

View All Comments
Post a Comment
* your email address will not appear

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Post a Comment
* your email address will not appear

Please enter the word you see in the image below:33343

Your Comment has been posted
Related Articles
Cry babies

Dry your eyes!
The newest additions are on their way from the Babies who cry real tears!


Latest Tech Used In Shipping Containers
Read how the shipping industry has revolutionised

Motherpedia cover-2

Win 1 set of a 4-book hardcover illustrated boxed set
Barbara Murray’s new 4-book Sound Stories is perfect for parents and educators and could assist with NAPLAN results

Motherpedia cover (4)

Where to celebrate Oktoberfest Australia
Get ready for this celebration!

Motherpedia cover-4

A Fortnight of Foodie Experiences at East Village
A taste of East Village. What's in it for me?

Globber my too fix up cover

We Try: Globber My TOO Fix Up
A scooter that grows with your child

Throw a winning cricket pitch

3 Steps to a Winning Backyard Cricket Pitch
Ex-Adelaide Oval legend curator Les Burdett shares his tips for getting your backyard cricket pitch test match ready this summer

A bike that follows your kids life cycle - motherpedia - cover

A Bike That Follows Your Kids Life Cycle
Check out the Bunzi 2-in-1 gradual balance bike!

Moonlight lifestyle

Moonlight Cinema to bring…
Moonlight Cinema announces brand new Western Sydney venue

Screen shot 2019-11-26 at 8.29.12 am

Your Magical Christmas Wonderland…
Adventure park is about to light up the night sky with its "Christmas Festival of Lights"

Screen shot 2019-11-21 at 11.11.36 am

The Preston Market Gets…
It's time to feel pumped up for the holiday season!


Bunnings team members get…
Help raise funds by buying a snag or donating at your local store.