Explain the innate drive for children to play

Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 3.1: Understand the value of play in Early Years
Learning outcome: Understand the role of play
Assessment criteria: Explain the innate drive for children to play


Childhood play is an instinctive and universal behaviour that serves many important functions in the growth and development of children.

Play is natural and innate in children, and its occurrence can be observed in many species of other animals, too.


The Playwork Principles are a professional and ethical framework for play in Wales. Principles one and two of the Playwork Principles state:

  1. All children and young people need to play. The impulse to play is innate. Play is a biological, psychological and social necessity, and is fundamental to the healthy development and well being of individuals and communities.
  2. Play is a process that is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. That is, children and young people determine and control the content and intent of their play, by following their own instincts, ideas and interests, in their own way for their own reasons.
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