The Importance of Play!

As a Licensed Professional Counselor who often works with children and a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology, I firmly believe that children need to have play to teach them how to cope with emotions, develop critical thinking skills, and learn early academics. Until the age of 5, most learning and expression of emotions should happen through play, the natural language of children. Play can help with fine motor develop, emotional and behavioral regulation, expressing emotions, social skills, and academic skills. Read below to see fun play activities to help with your child’s development.

1.     Unstructured and nondirective play can help your child express their emotions. Often times, when parents play with their child they tend to lead the play or show/tell the child how to play. Children can become resistant to this typical play and begin to depend on an adult to show them how to play.  Floor time is intentional time on the floor playing with your child, while letting your child lead the play.

2.     Board games help with learning cooperative play, expected and unexpected social behaviors, and regulating emotions when things do not go their way.

3.     There are many play activities that can help with fine motor skills. Try doing jigsaw puzzles instead of puzzles on the Ipad, use a Lite Brite, and common crafts such as coloring and using scissors. Additionally, playing with play dough helps strengthens hands, which further assists fine motor development.

4.     Academic learning is best achieved through play until the age 5. There are many enjoyable teaching activities do do through play, such as a map puzzle to help your child identify the different states. Further, board games help with counting skills. When rolling the dice, have your child count the number of spaces they are moving. While reading books, ask your child to predict what will happen next to learn critical thinking skills, or ask your child what a character is feeling and why they think they are feeling that emotion in order to increase emotional intelligence. The pre-reading skill of rhyming can also be taught with songs and books.

Studies are beginning to show the importance of play in children’s development. Try to find fun new ways to help your child express their emotions through play, learn social skills, and early academic skills. Call us to if you would like more information through a parent consultation, adult therapy, and/or child counseling! We have extensive training in play therapy, child and adolescent counseling, and sand tray therapy!

Written by Amy Rollo, M.A., LSSP, LPC-S

Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting