Understanding the Benefits of Play for Our Children.

I’m concerned about the world of technology and how it’s forced on us from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed. However, I’m even more concerned that babies, toddlers and kids are losing the art of play to the world of technology. Instead of playing, babies are given IPADS or popped in front of the TV for hours at a time. Every… single… day (please know, that I do use IPADS, TV’s and take my kids to the movies, but this is in moderation). How is this happening?

Kids of all ages need to play, explore, be creative and do these things on their own or with friends/family vs being told by an electronic device. For many of us it’s about educating ourselves about why play is so important for children and how this not only impacts them now, but also for their future.

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Benefits of Play

There are multiple benefits of play, but I found in the article by Kenneth R. Ginsburg, “The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bond” he captures the benefits of play beautifully:

“Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers. As they master their world, play helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges.”

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Play Develops Children in 4 Ways

Play assists with stimulating many different areas of the brain which result in children developing different skills that will assist in a variety of areas in their life.

The National Museum of Play identify 4 main areas of play which assist our kids in developing which are:

  1. Physical Development
    1. Strong and healthy bodies
    2. Stress management
    3. Agility
    4. Fine and gross motor skills
    5. Coordination
  2. Cognitive Development
    1. Literacy skills
    2. Language skills
    3. Independent thinking
    4. Research and inquiry skills
    5. Scientific and mathematical thinking
  3. Social Development
    1. Cooperation
    2. Negotiation
    3. Collaboration
    4. Socialisation
    5. Rules formation
    6. Conflict resolution
  4. Emotional Development
    1. Joy
    2. Empathy
    3. Resilience
    4. Persistence
    5. Self-regulation
    6. Self-confidence
    7. Impulse control

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Types of Play

Many parents think play is play, but what they don’t realise is that play comes in a variety of different ways depending on what developmental stage your child is at.

In the article The Importance of Play in Early Childhood Development they discuss in-depth the 10 types of play that your child can engage in.

The 10 types of Play

  1. Solitary Play
  2. Onlooker Play
  3. Parallel Play
  4. Associative Play
  5. Social Play
  6. Motor-Physical Play
  7. Constructive Play
  8. Expressive Play
  9. Fantasy Play
  10. Cooperative Play

Encourage Play

The next time your house looks like a bomb has gone off, take a step back and try to remember this mess is your child’s work. This mess is helping to shape them for their future, by allowing them to develop skills they’ll need for school, society and home.

Encourage your kids to play on their own, but also remember to play with them too. By playing with your kids, your strengthening your bond, by connecting with your child.  

So get down on the floor, play with some wooden toys, laugh and create childhood memories. If you’re struggling with play or needing ideas check out the article 20 Simple Ways to Connect with Your Child on a Daily Basis this will take the guesswork out of everything.

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