The importance of play time
Play time for kids is as important as school work for their holistic development. Find out about the benefits of play time right here...
Whether it’s just kicking a ball around by themselves or playing hide-and-seek with a group of friends, there’s absolutely no doubt that all kids, regardless of their age, love to play.
While adults might sometimes think that play is a pointless activity, in reality it has loads of both physical and psychological benefits for our little ones.
Some of these benefits include helping our kids develop their psychomotor skills and creativity, and hone their hand-eye coordination.
Despite its important role in a child’s development journey, many adults overlook the necessity of playtime as the child grows older and would rather they spend the time on education.
However, different types of play can actually be as important as education and contribute to your child’s holistic development.
Following are some of the ways various forms of play can benefit your older child.
This include sports or time at the playground and is a good form of exercise for the kids. It also serves as a good distraction from their busy lives as students.
Not only does active play strengthen the body, it also sharpens the mind as physical activity brings more oxygen to the brain and results in heightened responsiveness.
Modern favorites of ‘stimulating play’ such as computer games can help your child develop analytical skills, and quicken thinking responses. Almost all games require your child to think quick on his feet and respond appropriately to the situation presented.
As long as such play is monitored closely and rationed throughout his day, there can be little harm done.
This occurs when your child prefers to spend his or her spare time on artistic pursuits such as drawing, painting, or even making Play-doh sculptures. Creative play is an important and normal part of a healthy child’s development, and encourages creativity and free thinking.
Letting kids express themselves through art also gives parents a glimpse of their child’s imagination and creativity.
Find out on the next page how you can make play time with your younger baby fun and beneficial for him…
Play time and younger babies
Unlike older kids who can play on their own or with a group of friends, babies will often need you to be there and actively be involved in their play time.
A great play time favourite to try, especially if your baby is going through separation anxiety, is Peek-a-boo. This game enforces the idea that you have not “disappeared” but are merely out of sight.
It helps your baby cope better with separation anxiety as he grows older, as you will be able to comfort him with a reassuring voice from the next room, instead of having to put down what you are doing, just to pick him up.
Other than the benefits of learning through play, acting as your child’s play partner will also strengthen the bond between you and your child.
This is a sure bonus for especially working parents who might spend most part of each day working away from your baby.
More on the next page…
Helping babies learn independence through play time
Once your baby is old enough to experiment with his toys, you may find that he keeps himself occupied with them for longer periods of time, giving you time to yourself.
But do remember that it is still very important not to neglect your child, or restrict the way he might prefer to play with his toys.
When my son turned six-months-old, we presented him with a shape-sorting toy hoping that he would recognise shapes and do us proud by sorting them into the similar shaped holes in the sorter box.
I cannot begin to describe the sense of disappointment I felt when he didn’t seem to understand the toy’s purpose. But as the weeks went by, I finally understood that he had his own way of playing and started to take it in my stride.
He would bang the shapes together, stack them up, throw them around, play fetch with our cats using them, and turn the sorter box upside down to cover the shapes as if playing peek-a-boo with them.
In essence, he was doing everything but sorting out the shapes. And in actuality, there was nothing wrong with that. He was, and is, simply a baby who doesn’t like to follow strict rules when it came to play.
Most importantly, I realised he was creating his own rules with this toy. When he banged the shapes together, he was “making music” . He was practicing balance when he stacked up the shapes.
He managed to figure out that the box would work well as a hiding place for the shapes. He expressed his generosity by allowing our cats to share his toys with him.
Instead of showing me that he could sort shapes, my son had showed me much more of what he was capable of.
It was also this experience that had enlightened me on how adults should not restrict the way children prefer to play. Play time is not just about fun — it also helps our children learn and grow in various ways.
Parents, tell us how your kids enjoy their play time by leaving a comment.
What is imaginative play? Why is it important? And how can you unlock its teaching power?
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