Play Influence on Child’s Development, Learning, and School Readiness

Understanding of theoretical and philosophical approaches to play

Playing and conducting various physical activities are among the most important aspects of an individual’s childhood development. Parents should allow their children to spend their free time playing because of the significant impact it has on their health and upbringing. Various theories and philosophical approaches have been used to outline some of the advantages of providing children with adequate playtime.

The theories and the philosophical approaches have been used to highlight how children should play to get the best out of the time they invest in playing. Some of the theories have also been used to bring into light how playing enhances mental development, which enhances effective learning for children. Other approaches also advocate for effectiveness in playing only if an adult is a supervisor.

The understanding and definition of play come from different perspectives. Everyone reflects a very different point of view on what play. Some early education theorists believe that play is not considered valuable unless an adult is involved.

Theories and Philosophical approaches which influence play

Name of Theorist Philosophical approaches that influence play Examples of Application in the Early setting environment
Tina Bruce She is one of the exemplary scholars in the field of playing and learning. She argues that children play to implement what they have learned that can be expressed through various activities. Play is an important aspect of a child’s cognitive development process. Tina Bruce also advocates for playing as a tool for enhancing an individual’s social development process in that it enables a child to understand other individuals and how to relate with them appropriately.

The Freeflow play is a concept that Tina Bruce used to elaborate how children can play free and make decisions for themselves without being supervised by an adult. This approach strives to explain how playing enables children to acquire appropriate decision-making skills, an essential life skill for an individual.

Tina Bruce also describes appropriate playing using 12 features of play;

  1. First-hand experiences used in play. The experiences that a child gets exposed to in a given setting at an early age greatly impact their playing style and the roles they adopt.
  2. Rule playing enables children to develop a sense of independence and authority by making up their own rules when playing as compared to when playing under an instructor’s conditions.
  3. Using symbolic representations when playing enables the children to have smooth playing since every child is aware of the characters of the props.
  4. Children only play when they are in the mood to play. No child should be forced to play.
  5. Conducting rehearsals for their future role plays also portrays children’s ability to understand their roles and the need to perform them appropriately to make the play more enjoyable.
  6. It is okay for children to play alone. This enables them to understand the importance of personal time.
  7. Children are pretentious when playing because they strive to portray the characters of their icons.
  8. Children can play collaboratively with both their peers and adults.
  9. Children have different missions and objectives when playing different games.
  10. Children invest too much thought when playing and are difficult to distract when playing, and feel devastated when forced to stop play and learning.
  11. Children take time to conduct research and acquire new skills which they implement in their next play and learning sessions.
  12. Children invest too many emotions and feelings when playing with their peers and enable them to relate to their cultural orientation.
Taking the children to a supermarket, make the child select the fruits to purchase allow the child to make the decisions.
The free flow play approach also utilizes the natural setting where children are subjected to different outdoor activities that enable them learn new concepts about their immediate environments. For example, subjecting children to different activities may enable them identify their talents which can be natured at a young age.
For example, First-hand experience in the military setting will influence the child to develop an interest in military and forces plays.
Janet Moyles Janet Moyles studied the way that adults influence children’s learning through play. She suggested that play can be enriched using a spiral Model. The interest initiates from the child and child-initiated activity, the adult can then enrich the play by guiding it or directing it through the use of questions and extra resources. Provide Material that promotes learning and development
Material that reflects different cultures of the children

Equal opportunity policy in settings by providing a playing material that includes all children

Friedrich Froebel
(1782 – 1852)
Froebel is a German-born scholar in the education sector who strongly believes that adequate playtime to children at an early age enhances effective learning.
He argues that children mostly learn from different forms of plays that require them to use their hands as a tool.
He advocates for the free play approach which enables children to take control of their playing sessions without being dictated by an adult or other peers.
Children should be allowed to spend their playtime alone to enable them to learn and explore their environments by themselves. He argues that it enables children to enhance self-understanding.

He also stressed the importance of symbolic play and imaginative play.

Playing is an appropriate exercising activity which is important for mental development of young children.
Adequate playtime enables the children to plan for their time effectively since they will be aware of the difference between playing time and class time which enhances their activity and participation during class sessions.
Early childhood education institutions should ensure effective integration between playing and learning activities.
All the playing and learning programs should be child-centered to enhance appropriate development.
The institutions should also provide children with enough and safe outdoor grounds to play.
Ensure children have an environment that stimulates their ability to imagine and innovate new ideas.
He also argues that symbolic plays enable children to develop and enhance critical thinking.
Froebel also advocated for the introduction of block plays which helps in developing children’s cognitive abilities.
Singing and rhyming in early childhood educational institutions are significant in early language development.
Parents and guardians should also be involved in various child plays to support and ensure effective learning while playing.
Maria Montessori (1870-1952) Maria worked with children with learning difficulties. She used a structured approach, structured teaching material, and children made progress.
The Key Features of Montessori’s Approach
Children have an absorbent mind, and there is a period in which a child’s mind could learn effortlessly up to age 6.
Maria believed that children were Active learners and were more interested in practical objects rather than toys.
Another approach was that young children were capable of great concentration and independence, provided the environment was conducive. A quiet environment was necessary for the positive response of the child.
The role of the adult is also significant to guide children so that they do not waste away any time in doing their tasks that will not benefit the growth of the child, one of one guidance is essential to ensure that the tasks are completed effectively.
A holistic approach to child development, most settings consider the age of the child when planning activities. Her main focus was on how children interacted with their immediate environment and the significance of the setting to children learning and development.
Encourages children to be independent and come up and control their own plays and activities. This enables children to think and make decisions independently without external forces.
Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) Steiner education and the Steiner Waldorf schools in the UK are based on the work of Rudolf Steiner, and he was interested in social reform, Philosophy and religion.

Key Features of Steiner’s approach

Steiner believed that children need space and time to discover themselves. They need to be given opportunities to be imaginative and explore their senses at their own pace.

Children needed practical skills involving the hands to develop, including knitting and crochet.
Steiner believed that young children should play with natural materials to boost their creativity.

Singing and Dancing were important, and through storytelling, children gained ideas for their play.
The role of the adult is that of someone who guides the child, so the child can find and discover
Children with special needs who are given different roles when playing are always treated with utmost empathy by their peers.

Children with different conditions that are untreatable but can be controlled should be admitted to learning institutions that have programs for special needs children to ensure that they are well taken care of and supervised while playing.
Circle time is practiced worldwide as a means of developing children’s self-confidence and communication skills.
The Steiner approach also considers the utilization of natural setting when implementing various playing and learning activities.
The approach also considers the participants age where individuals with the same controllable conditions and age are put in the same age groups when playing to enhance effective understanding when playing and learning.
Susan Isaacs
Promoting the Importance of play in young children. She wrote articles regarding child development and play in action.
She intensely believed that children invest too many emotional attachments when playing, and this concept is extensively portrayed through imaginary plays.
Playing enables children to express their feelings which enables the guardian to understand the wants of the child.
Her Main Vision was the belief that children’s education should be incorporated together with being play until age 7. Her research shows that smart and gifted children were exposed to play learning at an early age.
Role-play and Imaginary play explore emotions and freedom to move around in the setting class.
This concept is majorly evident when young children spend most of their time playing virtual games which have a great influence on their on their emotions.
It does not necessarily require any natural setting since most of the activities are performed virtually.
For example online gaming has a great impact on a child’s learning process since they acquire new skills while playing the games.
However, the games and plays are age restricted since some of the games are more advanced and are made for adults.

2.1 Summarise how theoretical perspectives and Philosophical approaches on play inform Practice

Most of the theoretical and Philosophical approaches are currently being used and linked to current practice in the early settings in many ways.

Table A: How different approaches to play inform practice

Theorist Approach to Play inform Practices Example
Bruce Settings provide Free Flow Play; children can access different resources and play without interruptions.
Parents and guardians are required to ensure that the natural settings and natural resources and materials for playing are safe for their children to avoid unnecessary injuries to the children.
Outdoor play children can run around the playground with loads of resources, including different resources outside the settings like boats and pretend houses.
For example, children are able to divide themselves into different teams and play against each other by implementing their own rules without external pressure. This enables them to learn the importance of team work and independence at an early age.
Froebel It greatly outlines the importance of outdoor play settings and the importance of Natural playing environments to a child’s development process. Natural environments in which children can play. Frobel used Rhyme with children to introduce concepts, which are important for children. Frobel also introduced the concept of children playing with wooden block materials to learn. Playing with wet sand after a rain, wooden blocks to build during outdoor play areas. Outdoor environments and activities are majorly advantageous for children in that it relieves them from the boredom of staying in classroom for long hours. Outdoor activities also enable children to understand the importance of physical education at a young age.
Mc Millan Sisters Importance of partnerships with parents in their children’s education, also ensuring that children’s physical needs are met.
Some of the best ways of encouraging parents to participate in their children’s education is by organizing parent’s open days within the school to monitor their children’s academic performance. Parents are also encouraged to monitor their children when undertaking the home assignments to ensure that they have completed all the assigned tasks as per the tutor’s instructions.
Involving parents in the children’s day-to-day activities, the settings can offer free training to the parents on example Health Nutrition importance.
The approach can be implemented both indoors and in the external or natural settings where children and parents are allowed to spend time together. For example, during school competitions, parents are invited to monitor and encourage the children on the importance of talent and education.
Montessori The importance of the children being independent and allowing the children to have an environment that allows them to access material. The adult needs to plan for the children’s learning. The learning materials provided can be natural or artificial items. Natural materials may be acquired within the natural setting by the artificial materials can be provided by the parents or guardians. Children can organize their own activities and learn from them, such as building a boat with a play dough or paper or playing with wood sticks to build a pretend fire.
Forming different teams to contest against each other is also a major advantage of the Montessori approach since children learn on the importance of being responsible when their guardians are not available at the setting
Steiner Natural Materials was important for Children. Many settings today try to include natural material to allow children to learn.
Natural settings enable the children to understand the importance of their natural resources that can be used when playing.
Natural materials which are obtained from the natural setting make it easy and efficient for children to play at any given time they are free.
Playing with little rocks outside activities, making playdough from scratch as an indoor activity.
For example, children may make use other used materials within the natural settings which are considered safe to make different playing items. This helps in enhancing the continuity of the plays and games without depending of their parents or supervisors.
Vygotsky Importance of Imaginative play: Play is important for emotional and play therapy is used in specialist settings to help children come to terms with trauma. Example role-playing, teacher-student, or Dr and patient
In terms of Therapy in the event of losing a loved one.
Reggio Emilia The Reggio Emilia philosophy greatly aims at enhancing critical thinking for an individual at an early age. It encourages the use of early childhood education as a tool for enhancing critical thinking for effective decision-making processes (Fernández-Santín & Feliu-Torruella, 2020).
The philosophy of Reggio Emilio uses art as an instrument to gauge a child’s cognitive abilities to have a greater understanding of their thinking processes.
Reggio Emilia also advocates for using experiments to strengthen children’s understanding through observation and evidence-based concepts to validate various hypotheses.
Educational institutions that have adopted the competency-based curriculum approach to educating their students assign tasks requiring them to think critically about the appropriate concept. For example, providing students with procedures of a given experiment and instructing them to go and conduct the experiment for themselves and record their observations and conclusions.
Piaget Jean Piaget is one of the most significant psychologists in the education field due to his critical contributions to developmental psychology.
He outlines that the development of intellectuality for an individual starts from a younger age.
Jean Piaget’s main argument is that intellectuality is greatly dependant on the environment to which an individual is exposed, whether the environment can stimulate creativity or not. Most gifted were subjected to a stimulating environment of creativity at an early age, which enhanced their cognitive ability and effective imagination, creation, and invention processes.
This approach utilizes both indoors and natural settings where children easily learn from activities that they are exposed to at a young age.

This approach is not age restricted since an individual of any age can implement the approach to acquire different concepts in different settings.

Children exposed to libraries at a younger age are more knowledgeable in various topics because of the amount of information they have gathered while studying in the library.

Children can operate various electronic gadgets because the setting they were exposed to at an early age was favorable for them to be creative and develop an interest in learning more about different gadgets.

Forest Schools The Forest School approach originated from Scandinavia which is made up of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. It is a concept that encourages educational practitioners to embrace taking their students on outdoor activities regardless of the weather condition to enhance their understanding of various concepts that are easily understandable within the outdoor setting.
The approach is a long-term program requiring children to spend at least two days studying outside the classroom every week. This approach enables the student to have a greater understanding and relationship with their immediate environmental setting.
The Forest school approach makes it easy to educate the students on concepts that cannot be explained in the class since it entails conducting various activities which improve the student’s motor skills.
It was majorly adopted by the three countries due to inadequate indoor facilities for pre-school and nursery schools within the region.
Children take part in environmental conservation initiatives because they understand the importance of taking care of the environment to human beings.
Forest Schools is an effective approach in childhood education since it enhances and improves children’s active nature while studying outdoors as compared to studying indoors.


Fernández-Santín, M., & Feliu-Torruella, M. (2020). Developing Critical Thinking in Early Childhood Through the Philosophy of Reggio Emilia. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 100686. Web.

Cite this paper

Select style


ChalkyPapers. (2023, September 27). Play Influence on Child’s Development, Learning, and School Readiness. Retrieved from


ChalkyPapers. (2023, September 27). Play Influence on Child’s Development, Learning, and School Readiness.

Work Cited

"Play Influence on Child’s Development, Learning, and School Readiness." ChalkyPapers, 27 Sept. 2023,


ChalkyPapers. (2023) 'Play Influence on Child’s Development, Learning, and School Readiness'. 27 September.


ChalkyPapers. 2023. "Play Influence on Child’s Development, Learning, and School Readiness." September 27, 2023.

1. ChalkyPapers. "Play Influence on Child’s Development, Learning, and School Readiness." September 27, 2023.


ChalkyPapers. "Play Influence on Child’s Development, Learning, and School Readiness." September 27, 2023.