Play makes a vital contribution to the cognitive and linguistic development of the child, and is instrumental in the formation of friendships. Play and peer interactions also allow children to develop important skills such as conflict resolution, empathy and moral understanding (see Chapter 5), and these important cognitive skills in turn facilitate the development of more sophisticated play activities (Eisenberg and Fabes, 1990, 1998; Harris, 2003; Kavale and Forness, 1996; Ricaud-Droisy and Zaouche-Gaudron, 2003). In this chapter, we will discuss the different types of play, examine the role of play in child development, and identify the importance of play in educational and therapeutic settings. We will begin our discussions with a brief historical account of play.
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