One thing all children love to do is play! While kids are young, it is important to emphasise the importance of playtime and not brush it off as something trivial. In Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney’s words, the time spent playing during one’s childhood has an impact on the development of human imagination and personality:
No co-ed dorm supplies the joys
Of an attic full of dusty toys
And old dolls’ houses.
No faculty of engineering
Repeats the joys of tinkering
With model planes, that hankering
To fly with aces.
It seems illiterate solitude
Is the first place where the true and the good
Awaken in us.
The later freedom we call leisure
Cannot supply that buried treasure
Which is the basis and the measure
Playtime provides not only an opportunity for kids to explore their immediate environment and tinker with things but also to bond with their siblings or friends, and it also supports your child’s developmental skills (haven’t we heard how many startup geniuses began their journeys in the attics and garages of their parents’ houses?). That is why many parents focus on buying their kids educational toys and signing them up for educational play sessions such as Kidzania.
These are some skills that are improved through playtime:
1. Fine and Gross Motor Skills
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Motor skills make up the base of our movements and this is something that is honed from a young age. While the ability to move is something that is indeed innate, fine motor skills are something that should be practised in a child’s early years. After all, practice makes perfect. So, when your child picks up a basketball and throws it through a hoop, or picks up a pair of craft scissors to cut out a circle or heart, or picks up an instrument to bang on, they are actually refining their motor skills. This is also a good teaching opportunity for parents – children need to be reminded that it is only through practice that they will continue to improve at what they are doing.
2. Social Skills
Playtime shouldn’t be done in isolation – it is a great time for bonding. Whether your kids are playing with you, their siblings or their friends, they will learn social skills during playtime. It is a good time to teach them about sharing, learning to communicate, teamwork and even a little healthy competitiveness. If your child happens to lose a game, you can also teach them how to display good sportsmanship. Get your kids to engage in sports and games that involve a lot of teamwork to teach them these valuable lessons.
3. Imagination & Creativity
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Unlike what is commonly considered play, such as games of tag, ball, using slides, swings and more, there is another form of play which can be called pretend play or make-believe play. In such games, children act out stories that they pluck from the air and play it out with multiple perspectives, manipulating ideas and emotions. The ability to engage in such games reflects the child’s cognitive and social development.
Research has shown clear benefits of children’s engagement in pretend games from the ages of about two and a half through ages six or seven. Cognitive benefits of such games include increases in language usage including subjunctives, future tenses, and adjectives. When children take on different roles in imaginative games (using their fantasy) it “allows children the unique opportunity to learn social skills such as communication, problem-solving, and empathy (Hughes, 1999)”. Research by Root-Bernstein’s1 clearly indicates that creative individuals such as Nobel Prize winners and MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant awardees indulged in early childhood games set in make-believe worlds. To enable your child to explore such fantasy games, help them with the right nutrition that boosts their brain development. Scott’s Gummies, which contain DHA, is one such recommended brain power booster. DHA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid which is an excellent aid in the development of your baby’s brain and eyes.
4. Problem-Solving Skills
Nowadays, there are a lot of apps for kids to play and learn through devices. Give them the chance to play with educational apps that will hone their problem-solving skills. Sometimes, even games that seem “addictive” or “mindless” have problem-solving skills embedded in them, like Kitchen Scramble. As you go through the levels, serving customers gets increasingly difficult and children learn how to solve time management problems and logistical issues. For something a little more basic, games that involve stacking or putting blocks into the correct spots can also encourage better problem-solving skills.
5. Language Skills
A lot of children’s books, activities and games employ sophisticated language, which allows a child to expand his or her vocabulary. Beyond just cue cards with words on them, parents can explore more engaging toys or games like talking dolls and dress-up. Dress-up playtime is especially useful in teaching your children new terms. Have them dress up like little doctors or little chefs to teach them new words surrounding the various industries.
Playtime is really important for your child’s development and not something that should be neglected or taken lightly. Children should be allowed adequate playtime so that they can enjoy games both physical and mental. As a parent, you can help your child’s development through the right nutrition. You have a ready friend on your side on this journey – Scott’s Gummies that have DHA. Consuming DHA is important for your child’s brain development2, which is the control centre. Find out more at here.
1The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development (Psychology Today). Retrieved on 14 Sep 2017 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beautiful-minds/201203/the-need-pretend-play-in-child-development
2The Relationship of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) with Learning and Behavior in Healthy Children. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3738999/