The Importance of Play

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Children Play

When someone inquires about how’s your child doing, your natural response is that they’re growing and playing, right?

At first, it might sound light and, shall we say, unimportant to you, since they do it all day, every day, even the pandemic time is no exception.

What you need to know is that it’s not “just playing”. It’s the most important job of “kid-dom”, as much as of an older child who is “studying for their language test” or “passing a difficult exam. When you put it in this perspective like this, it makes a much more powerful impact.

Age-appropriate

Therefore, you might imagine how important it is for play to be “appropriate”. By the way, the telling sign of someone’s well-structured parenting, or babysitting for that matter, is the ability to structure a child’s playtime.

This is also significant for nannies. You need to be well-versed with what age requires what types of games and activities. It’s important to note, though, that you shouldn’t be the play-center or an animator clown all day long. Let the kids be bored sometimes. Boredom breeds creativity and brilliant ideas.

But we are saying that you should know what types of play is age-appropriate for you to initiate it, or set it up for a child to play on their own. Sometimes it’s just a clue that’s enough. A properly positioned card on a small chair, or timely placed container with building blocks.

We are aware, however, that life’s completely different nowadays for a lot of people.

Many have to work from home, some are single parents with the same task, some have to take care of their elderly, too, but they can be helped by a live in personal assistant.

It’s not easy to juggle everything that’s on your plate, yet, parenting won’t wait, and it’s good to put things into perspective. Meaning, to know that your child’s needs matter most. Play is one of them. When you play with your children, you say: “I love you.

The three types of games you can always pull from your hat are:

  1. Roleplay
  2. Any creative, unstructured play- plasticine, blocks, crayons, rice, flour, where you don’t know where it will end up
  3. Depending on the child’s age, any game that involves movement

Play Explained

In the next few paragraphs, we’ll explain in greater detail why play is crucial for children and their development.

First, let’s explore what play is before we delve into the why. Play is an activity that satisfies children, but it doesn’t have to always be fun. An example would be a very frustrated child who is not being able to build a block bridge one way, but the moment they solve it, it becomes completely satisfying.

It is a meaningful and spontaneous “enterprise” a child participates in actively, with their own private rules, and where the process itself is more important than the end goal.

Finally, it’s the ultimate joy of a childhood.

“Play is an important vehicle for children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development, as well as a reflection of their development”, asserts the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

This is how the children learn about the world: its concept, rules, strategy, problem solving, being flexible. Child’s thinking is connected to the physical, emotional and social aspect of their existence, and as interactive as it is, it cannot thrive without play- since it is the only way kids are predisposed to learn.

What do they learn, you’re asking yourself? Read this article to find out all the aspects of their development; all relevant research and prominent psychologists are cited here as well.

Being Social

The article says that children work together while playing, so they learn to compromise, and be flexible while thinking and behaving. They also learn how to take turns, how to give and take, which is truly vital in life.

Another very important aspect is- building trust, which happens when they depend on each other during play.

Also, they teach themselves to set and follow rules, sometimes even explore the existing ones, learning about their culture as well (for example, in a role-play).

How Do You Feel?

They have a chance to truly express how they feel or just start learning about that.

They can act out fear or frustration, without being judged.

They can play protect-and-attack games to express the feeling of control when things feel uncontrollable.

In the end, they can learn to become resilient.

They can feel it all. How liberating.

Look How Strong You’ve Become!

They grow up not by learning tips and tricks on walking, but by an actual trial and error process. By walking, to be exact.

Thus, they learn all types of coordination, large and fine motor skills by utilizing them, and what better way than through the play. So, “run, dig, push, carry, pound, swing and throw”.

Big Brainer

The last aspect of the importance of play is the one regarding thinking. They need to concentrate and think abstractly. They need to solve problems, memorize things, be creative and take a perspective of a, say, alien. Or a king frog. Or a fairy chef. They need to play not only with the physical stuff, but the ideas! Imagine what happens in their brains! A miracle! A feast for imagination and joy!

They have to make up a story, and it’s usually an ad-hoc creation, not always prepared in advance.

Just imagine what a child needs to learn to participate in their own scripts- they need to learn to restrain their natural urges, and it’s all through a spontaneous play.

Not through dictation of the rules, let alone- punishment.

They want to succeed and work hard while playing, not because you promised them something in return, but because they really enjoy it.

That’s their second skin.

So play is rewarding in itself. THIS is the “highest level of preschool development”.

Conclusion

As we’ve seen, play is way more than just spending time doing something.

So much so that the United Nations declared it to be the children’s right.

At the end of the day, what children do later in their lives as adults is- play, but this time with concepts.

They deal with problems and their solutions, so don’t forget that it all began with the child’s play.

AuthorBio: Anne Harris is an HR specialist working for londonlive-incare.com. She eagerly shares her knowledge with her audience on various blogs. When she isn’t writing or attending wellness conferences, she likes to pack her rucksack and ride her day away on her bike or spend time with her friends.

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