Magical things happen when children PLAY
During 'play', children get the opportunity to develop interdependence and to interact and communicate with other children. While sharing affection with others, learning takes place and personalities form. It's very helpful for children to play with others that are about the same age as them - this makes it easier for them to understand one another and neither of them would feel that they are not up to another child's standard.
Play makes them equal
During the preschool years, children like to play games that involves activity but has no winner. For example:
moving toy cars around
Activities such as these involve gross- and fine motor development. They also like to build things with objects such as clay or blocks and although they are not always able to build puzzles, they tend to enjoy trying.
Imagination plays a huge role during 'play' and they love to pretend during fantasy play. Playing dress-up and making different sounds and voices for each doll is exhilarating for them and they may even find themselves an imaginary friend. Parents aren't always sure if it's normal for their children to have an imaginary friend or even if they exclude themselves from other children and likes spending time alone. Most preschoolers, however, enjoy their own company and engages in solitary play. It's quite normal and this is usually only a phase that passes. In extreme cases when children have unhealthy issues with others or uses an imaginary friend as an excuse to do bad things, it starts to be a cause for concern.
Cultural differences do occur and in collectivist cultures, children normally play in large groups while children in individualistic cultures are more comfortable playing in smaller group.
Once children reaches the age of about 6 or 7, they start to focus more on games that have logical and structured rules. They like to organize things and begin to act more responsibly towards their belongings and especially, their toys. Collecting items gives them meaning and they become proud to own and show-off these collections - stamps, action figurines, stickers, marbles, etc. Games also start to get more physical like practicing to kick a ball into a target. They want to ride bicycles and skateboards and will practice until they can do it perfectly...the more tricks, the better! Parents usually see it as dangerous but for the child it's all about impressing his/her friends.
Children will play whatever they see happening around them. Girls that have no sisters or girlfriends will not play with dolls but will prefer playing with cars and toy guns or whatever the boys play with. This is because there is no stimulation for 'girlsplay'. The same can be said for boys.
Actual play is always more welcomed than electronic play. Educational toys isn't always preferred by children so it is up to us as parents or teachers to make sure that children get the opportunity to engage in these games as well. Electronics may be more fun for a while but nothing beats the outside world! We want them to develop in all the developmental areas and should help them to play appropriate age-related games.