Play is the business of childhood. As a mother, allowing your children play without shushing them is allowing them to experiment with the world around them. While it may look like mere child’s play to you, there are some things your children are experiencing and learning that they won’t learn in the classroom.
Play is critical for children’s development because it provides time and space for children to explore and gain skills needed for adult life. Children’s playtime has steadily decreased due to limited access to play spaces, changes in the way children are expected to spend their time, parent concerns for safety, and digital media use.
These days, most parents choose to take their children to the mall or the cinema instead of allowing them play in the sand, interact with other children or fight them for their toys like in the past. Many children are trapped indoors without a means of expressing themselves through play.
Play is any spontaneous or organized activity that provides enjoyment, entertainment, amusement or diversion. When children play, they engage with their environment in a safe context in which ideas and behaviours can be combined and practiced.
Children’s playtime continues to decrease as a result of emphasis on academic preparation at an early age, electronic media replacing play time, less time playing outside, perceived risk of play environments and limited access to outdoor play spaces. But parents should not overlook the many benefits of play in children’s development.
Children enhance their problem solving and flexible thinking and also learn how to process and display emotions, manage fears and interact with others on the play ground. Free, unstructured play allows children to practice making decisions without prompted instructions or the aim of achieving an end goal. They can initiate their own freely chosen activities and experiment with their own rules.
Pretending, or imaginative play is one of the cornerstones of a young child’s world. Almost anything can spur your children’s imagination, including everyday objects. This is because they use them as symbols. They are learning that one thing can stand for other things. Using their new ability to pretend, they can transform a block of wood into a boat, a few pots and pans into a drum set.
Play advances physical development of children. Different types of physical play help develop different skills: For example, skipping takes balance, climbing builds strength, and sporting activities involve coordination. And the dexterity your children develop during play is carried over to everyday life.
There’s a nonphysical benefit of physical play too: It helps kids work through stress and crankiness. In fact, without adequate time for active play, your child may become grumpy or tense and obese.
Play helps kids work through emotions. Long before children can express their feelings in words, they express them through physical play, storytelling, art, and other activities. When children have experiences that are hurtful or hard to understand, they review those experiences again and again through play.