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What is Play
Benefits of Play: Social
Engaging in play is an excellent way to meet people, make friends, and sustain those friendships. Children learn from and benefit greatly when engaged in fun activities together, especially within “inclusive” settings where children with and without disabilities play together. Social skills that are important to know in other aspects of one’s life – job, school, community living - can be learned, practiced, and perfected through play, including: waiting in line, taking turns, initiating conversations, as well as sustaining them, accepting assistance and support from others, listening, and getting, accepting, and giving feedback, to name a few.
Socialization SkillsChildren learn to initiate, sustain, and terminate social interactions through play. Through these interactions, children will also have the opportunity to develop and improve their communication skills, including the acquisition of alternative means of communication. Play has been linked to increased cooperation, which in turn aids in establishing and maintaining socially acceptable behaviors. Children learn to follow directions, take turns, abide by the agreed-upon rules, and other important social problem-solving skills. Making choices helps children to identify their personal preferences. Children will learn to accept feedback from others, and equally as important, play will foster the ability to ask for, and accept the help of others. The social skills learned through play are the foundation of successful relationships and interactions that a child engages in not only now, but throughout his or her life.
Four young friends with and without disabilities play together in preschool.
Connection to OthersPlay will create and strengthen friendships with peers, for both individuals with and without disabilities. These friendships are very important for effective inclusion. Children will learn early on the traits they prefer in friends by asking certain friends to play as well as responding to friends’ invitations. They will learn to be sensitive to others’ needs and perspectives when engaging in play, and thus learn to negotiate and compromise when their perspectives or needs are in conflict with those of their friends. Play will often require individuals to work together, and through this cooperation, children will learn to share with others. Overall, play will inspire a sense of belonging, which will increase self-esteem, happiness, and confidence, as well as provide numerous other benefits.
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This online resource has been created through a collaborative project of the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) with content and design development by the National Center on Accessibility (NCA) and the Indiana University School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. This project is funded through Grant/Cooperative Agreement Number U59/CCU522742-02 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC.
All rights reserved. No part of this guide may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Copyright 2013, Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.