Calling an activity 'child's play' may make it sound trivial, but your three-year-old's playtime is vital to their development – physically, mentally and emotionally.

Physically active play will help build muscle, develop gross (big) and fine motor skills, extend language, learn about cooperation and reduce stress. Give them a daily opportunity to play outside and ensure that their preschool alternates quiet time with free play.

So while there is an emphasis on using exercise-based play to promote a healthy lifestyle, the value of less organised, even sedentary and solitary play should not be dismissed. By the end of their third year, they will have progressed from side-by-side play to cooperative and interactive games.

Visual Motor Integration (VMI) is a fundamental skill for a child's development and is the ability to interpret visual information, to direct coordinated movements and to integrate these two processes.

Play is an important part of your child's development. Image: Getty.

Why is VMI important? For a preschooler, it helps with ball skills, bike riding and using cutlery. In older children VMI directly impacts handwriting, reading and maths ability.

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Why is VMI important? For a preschooler, it helps with ball skills, bike riding & using cutlery. In older children VMI directly impacts handwriting, reading and maths ability.

Help kick start their VMI through play activities or 'jobs' that involve eye-tracking and hand-eye coordination.

Tired of a house strewn with toys? Control the urge to pack it all away as easy access to toys and play materials has been shown to benefit independent and imaginative play. Create a dedicated play corner/room if it's really getting to you.