[Skip to content]

Wokingham Borough Council
Wokingham Borough Council Schools Hub
Wokingham Borough Council Schools Hub
Search our Site
How children learn
How children learn rounded.png

The Importance of Play

Play underpins the EYFS. It also underpins learning and all aspects of children’s development. Through play, children develop language skills, their emotions and creativity, social and intellectual skills. For most children their play is natural and spontaneous although some children may need extra help from adults. Play takes place indoors and outdoors and it is in these different environments that children explore and discover their immediate world. It is here they practice new ideas and skills, they take risks, show imagination and solve problems on their own or with others. The role that adults have is crucial. Adults provide time and space and appropriate resources. These might include clothes, boxes, buckets, old blankets that will inspire play and fire children’s imaginations. They observe play and join in when invited, watching and listening before intervening. They value play and provide safe but challenging environments that support and extend learning and development. (Early Years Matters 2018)


Just playing 

When I am building in the block room,

Please don’t say I’m “Just Playing.”

For, you see, I’m learning as I play,

About balance and shapes.

Who knows, I may be an an architect someday.

When I am getting all dressed up,

Setting the table, caring for the babies,

Don’t get the idea I’m “Just Playing.”

For, you see, I’m learning as I play.

I’m expressing myself and being creative.

I may be an artist or an inventor someday.

When you see me sitting in a chair

“Reading” to an imaginary audience,

Please don’t laugh and think I’m “Just Playing.”

For, you see, I’m learning as I play.

I may be a teacher someday.

When you see me combing the bushes for bugs,

Or packing my pockets with choice things I find,

Don’t pass it off as “Just Play.”

For, you see, I’m learning as I play.

I may be a scientist someday.

When you see me engrossed in a puzzle or some

“plaything” at my school,

Please don’t feel that time is wasted in “Play.”

For, you see, I’m learning as I play.

I’m learning to solve problems and concentrate.

I may be in business some day.

When you see me cooking or tasting foods,

Please don’t think that because I enjoy it, it is “Just Play.”

For, you see, I’m learning as I play.

I’m learning to follow directions and see differences.

I may be a cook someday.

When you see me learning to skip, hop, run, and move my body,

Please don’t say I’m “Just Playing.”

For, you see, I’m learning as I play.

I’m learning how my body works.

I may be a doctor, nurse, or athlete someday.

When you ask me what I’ve done at school today,

And I say, I “Just played.”

Please don’t misunderstand me.

For, you see, I’m learning as I play.

I’m learning to enjoy and be successful at my work,

I’m preparing for tomorrow.

Today, I am a child and my work is play.

Anita Wadley


Research behind the importance of play 

The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education project

The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education summary

Influences on Students GCSE Attainment and Progress at age 16

PACEY Preparing for school guide

Steps to starting school

Pre-School and early Home learning effects on A level outcomes


Government advice for early years settings 

Are you ready - Good practice in school readiness

School readiness Ofsted presentation





Click image below to return to Ready for school main page

Beanstalk 180.png