As we hope you learned in our first Benefits of Play post, play is the way children learn about themselves and the world. Through play, they learn to get along with others, sort out conflicts, practice language skills, and develop small (fine) and large (gross) motor skills. In addition, play encourages independence, self-esteem, and creativity!
Active Play vs. Passive Play
Today, we will explore the difference in Active Play and Passive Play. Active Play is an activity from which one derives amusement, entertainment, or enjoyment by taking a participatory rather than a passive role. Passive Play is an activity from which one derives amusement, entertainment, or enjoyment by observing passively.
When a child is actively engaged in an activity, he is integrating his senses. The child is seeing, touching, hearing, smelling, tasting, and getting proprioceptive (a fancy way to say sensing your own body's movement), and/or vestibular input. In other words, the WHOLE BODY IS LEARNING!!
For some, the difference between active play and passive play is not obvious. Why should it matter if a child is "playing" a game on their phone app instead of "playing" by acting out in the real world? In fact, there is a HUGE difference! Pre-loaded phone or computer games only require a child to perform a repetitive action in order to play the game. The play narrative is provided and the child's imagination is not being used actively. Children who play by "acting out" games in the real world, especially in a social setting among other children, are required to invent and impose a play narrative. The use of their imaginations and cognitive skills is far greater than it would be with a phone or computer game. Children who are engaged in active play with peers also learn social negotation skills like fairness, turn-taking, and co-operation that will provide to be valuable the rest of their lives. The list of benefits goes on and on for children involved in active play...communication skills, social skills, an understanding of social rules, friendships, a sense of 'give and take', patience, perseverance, an understanding of others, teamwork, a sense of belonging, and physical activity to name a few!
Still trying to sort out the difference between active play and passive play? Here are a few examples:
|Active Play||Passive Play|
|Child connects the track and then pushes toy train around the track||Child watches battery operated train go around the track|
|Child learns to propel self on a tricycle or other ride-on toy||Child rides on a battery powered ride-on toy|
|Child imitates actions to songs and finger plays||Child listen's to children's music on a CD|
|Parent and child sit on the floor and play together||Parent and child watch TV together|
So get your child moving, turn off the electronic devices, and help them use their imaginations and creativity to play in a way that is both fun and stimulating for the body and the brain!
**Information from "The Power of Play: Effective Play-Based Therapy and Early Intervention"