What is Child-Directed Play? Before we look at child-directed play, let’s look at defining play itself. I like to look at play as a freely chosen activity that has no specific goal to be achieved, other than just enjoying the activity. For children, play is natural and is something most children engage in without having to be taught how to play. Over the years, child development experts have found that play in childhood is necessary for a child’s healthy intellectual, emotional, physical, and social development.