If your goal is to raise healthy and well-rounded kids, then play should be a huge focus in your daily lives. Why is play so important and how can you play with your children to help foster independence, imagination, and many other important life skills? Keep reading to find out!
As a parent of 3 children, I see friends raising their children with a lot of electronics and screen time. I’m not saying screen time is bad, in fact, I think it’s an amazing chance for children to learn a lot of important skills too, but it should be done in moderation.
With the pandemic happening for the last year and a half, I myself have fallen rather guilty of allowing too much screen time and giving myself too much screen time too. It’s ok though because it’s all about survival.
Remember to give yourself grace.
See also: How to Recognize and Nurture Your Child’s Talents
But, while it’s ok to allow screen time, it’s also very important to squeeze in playtime that does not involve screens into the daily lives of your children. Activities such as arts and crafts, walking in the parks, building railroads, and lego airplanes are all super important when it comes to teaching our children problem-solving skills, communication skills, mathematical skills, and more.
See also: Does Your Child Fidget and Move Non Stop? Here Is What To Do About It
Play Shouldn’t Be Difficult
Play shouldn’t be too difficult for parents. It’s not about setting up complicated sensory bins and spending every second helping your child play. It’s about giving your child the tools, such as a toy, and the space to learn how to use that toy.
Think back to when your child was a small baby, around 6-12 months of age. You would give your baby a toy, show them how to use it, and give your baby some space to figure it out. Your baby might play with the toy, or go somewhere else to explore their environment. That’s ok. You were there to give them the idea of the activity and they chose to do something else.
Toddlers are no different, and neither are older children. Play does not have to be complicated. Let the children use their imaginations and create their own play.
Why Is Play So Important For Children?
The importance of play in childhood promotes children to explore and develop cognitive & physical skills that will become useful later in life.
As parents, we want our children to not only succeed in life but thrive at their fullest potential as well.
As hard as we try to give them the tools they need for a successful upbringing, sometimes the most important thing we can give them is the time to play and use their imagination.
From apps to books and everything in between, there is nothing more educational than learning through “doing,” which is what happens when children play.
See also: Why Minimizing Toys Can Help Promote Imagination In Kids
Playing Independently Can Teach Children:
- Learn to read, write and spell
- Learn mathematical skills
- Learn to solve problems
- Develop independence
- Become musical, sporty and artistic
While screen time is ok in moderation It is also essential to let them be bored, pick up a toy, and make their imagination soar.
When children lose playtime, they tend to develop learning difficulties and even can have a more difficult time completing homework.
Children should be developing their skills naturally, at their own pace, and not through many scheduled activities, this is why I love to have an unscheduled summer schedule that includes a lot of free play in the backyard.
Overscheduled children are very busy and often stressed out, which in turn does not help them learn and can foster anxiety and even anger. The cognitive and physical skills that children develop through free play are invaluable.
See also: Helping Your Child Choose Good Friends And Be A Good Friend
See also: Why We Limit Our Screen Time To 45 Minutes A Day And How We Enforce It
What Children Learn Through Play
Learning through play has always been one of the most powerful ways to educate young minds.
Here are some of the things that children learn while they play:
Children Learn Self Control
Children learn how to self-regulate their emotions, which is an essential skill to develop at an early age. Children can work through their feelings and learn to negotiate with others as well as learn the power of delayed gratification through simple, imaginative play. You can do some of these fun social-emotional learning activities with your children to help them learn to manage emotions.
Children Learn Healthy Habits
Children learn healthy habits through play, especially when they pretend to cook in a kitchen and wash their hands in a pretend sink. Pretend play promotes healthy habits because it allows children to engage in the world around them actively, especially if you can incorporate doing some basic chores and make them into games. This can help prevent childhood obesity as well as depression and loneliness.
Children Learn How To Relieve Stress
Do your children seem stressed out? If they show signs of stress and anxiety such as biting nails, getting angry all the time, and being defiant, they could very well be stressed out.
Teach your child some self-regulation skills and breathing exercises to help manage their anger and anxiety if you notice that they could be suffering from stress.
Another thing you can do to combat a stressed-out child is to allow them to play in nature, and with toys that promote imagination. Overscheduled children often respond well to relaxing with non directed, free play.
Not only does play boost a children’s health and development, but it also helps to provide stable and nurturing relationships that help add a buffer between stress.
The joy that happens when a child engages in play melts away the stress because the child is relaxed and happy, which helps to get those endorphins flowing.
Play can reduce stress in all children of all ages, if you notice your teen is feeling stressed, go kick a ball around outside, throw a frisbee or play a game of basketball. Play doesn’t have to be for small children, it’s great for teens and even adults too.
See also: The Early Years of Child Brain Development
Children Learn How To Have New Ideas
Play gives children new ideas about the world around them and promotes the use of imagination. New ideas and innovation is the way of the world.
We need people and their ideas so we can advance in technology and introduce new ways to make life easier and more convenient.
I mean, look at all the cool technology we have today, children who used their imaginations and learned to dream big grew up into adults who worked hard and made their dreams come true.
See also: Brain Development and Childhood Learning: Critical Period
Children Learn How To Make Decisions
When children play, they make decisions, and sometimes they learn the natural consequences of their choices.
Sometimes they make a decision that works out well for them, and this teaches lessons that decisions are important and should be thought through well if they don’t want to face consequences later on.
See also: Why I Don’t Entertain My Kids And Embrace Boredom
Children Learn About Mindfulness
When children are engaged in play, they lose awareness of the space around them, and they focus solely on the task in front of them.
When children “zone out” when engaged in an activity, they are safe and secure and are often not afraid to try new ideas and experiment.
Children Learn More About Risk-Taking
As children play and interact with new materials around them, they explore and developmental flexibility and executive function.
When it comes to risk-taking play, STEM activities are some of the best toys that you can offer to your child. We love to play with lego, magnet net tiles and circuit boards in our home.
These are all critical skills that children need which is why play is such a huge part of child development.
Physical Development Is A Result Of Play
Play helps strengthen gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills should be developed before fine motor skills, and children who do not have good gross motor skills are less likely to participate in sports during their childhood and adolescence. Gross motor skills include:
- Standing, running
Fine motor skills are more precise and take more time to master. When fine motor skills are mastered, children can hold pencils and write letters.
Fine motor skills are often just beginning to develop when a baby starts to crawl and pick up smaller foods to eat. Fine motor skills include:
- Drawing pictures
- lego building
- getting dressed
- brushing teeth
- building towers
See also: 10 Legit Steps To Raise Unplugged Kids
Shape Cognitive Development
Playtime stimulated the brain for proper growth and improve memory. During leisure time, children concentrate, solve problems, and sharpen their overall thinking skills.
Pretend play or fantasy play teaches children to regulate their emotions and develop their reasoning skills.
Children also develop language skills and exploration skills, which are important later in life, especially math and science classes at school.
Toys and Games That Promote Learning Play
Play is an important part of learning because it allows children to ask questions, solve problems, collaborate, and undertake structured experiments. Here are some great toys and games you can use to promote imagination play at home.
Brain Blox Wooden Building Blocks for Kids
Great way to build up brainpower! These building blocks can help your child with math, physics, and engineering concepts. This is a great STEM toy and makes a great gift too.
Science & Crafts For Children By Green Kids Crafts
With Green Kids Crafts, you’ll receive a themed box of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) kits every month for kids ages 3-10. It’s a great way for kids to learn about how to make the world more environmentally friendly.
Puzzles For Kids
Puzzles are great for developing problem-solving skills. The fine motor skills needed to place the pieces together also grow stronger when puzzles are completed.
You can grab puzzles at the dollar tree or Amazon
Wooden blocks are great for building all sorts of different things. when children are building, they are solving problems and using their imagination on this open-ended activity.
Dress Up Play / Pretend Play
Get creative and let your children use common fabrics and household items to play pretend.
You can also grab a few ready-made costumes for your prince or princess online shipped right to your door.
Learning Through Play FAQ’s
What is an example of learning through play?
Examples include playing at the park, imaginative play with make-believe stories and dancing to music at home. There are many activities suitable for indoors and outdoors that you can play with your child. You can get creative with recyclable objects that you have around the house
What is play-based method?
At school, a play-based approach incorporates both child-led and teacher-supported learning. Through exchanges that try to push their thinking to higher levels, the teacher supports children’s learning and inquiry.
What is Piaget’s theory on play?
Learning through play looks to be a simple concept, but it has a lot of weight. Play, according to Piaget, is essential for children’s intelligence development. His theory of play contends that as a kid grows older, their surroundings and play should assist them to develop their cognitive and verbal skills.
Why are children’s parks important?
Parks are fantastic places for childs to learn about nature and use their imagination! Making contact with family. A park can help children connect with nature while also providing excellent family time. A good journey in your local park can help you develop a sense of wildlife, natural resources, and open spaces.