Let your kids play, PM Lee said during the recent National Day Rally. An expert shares how playtime might just be the most beneficial time for your child.
At the recent national Day rally, PM Lee Hsein Loong discussed the Singapore education system and the stress that kids face these days. The kiasu mentality means children as young as three are going for kindergarten preparatory classes or reading classes. Question then is when do these children get to be kids? What parents fail to understand is how important play is to a child’s physical, mental and social wellbeing.
Looking at things differently
With the way the education system is geared in Singapore, play is not given as much credit as a means of development. According to early childhood expert, Carrie Lupoli, founder of Live and Learn Asia, “There is a lot of new research about the power of play and how it relates to brain development.” She adds, “Allowing your child to play [also] gives him or her many learning opportunities.”
Go out and play
According to Lupoli, the most rapid brain changes and developments happen in the first three years of life, thus it is the parent’s job to engage their children and get them into a mindset for learning.” This engagement she talks about is not through assessment books or enrichment classes, but through playing with your child. Take time out from your busy schedule to roll around in the dirt or fly a kite or even play masak-masak with the kids. The benefits far outweigh any preconceived notions or inconvenience as you enjoy a time-out session with the little ones. This is good for family dynamics as well as physical and mental health. It is important not to take play for granted, after all its how “toddlers and young children start to understand how their world is being processed. Play is not trivial. When children play, they’re doing important work,” Lupoli asserts.
Types of play
Like anything else, there is a science behind play and if we do it sincerely, we will eventually see the benefits. After all what kind of childhood would a child have if he or she had no time to enjoy it? According to experts at the Child Development Institute, there are 5 different types of play.
1. Motor/Physical Play
Motor and physical play provides critical opportunities for children to develop psycho-motor skills. Activities such as running, rolling around and other physical activity will help stimulate brain development.
2. Social Play
These are opportunities for a child to interact and play with others in a social setting. Through social play, a child picks up social rules such as cooperation, sharing and give and take.
3. Constructive Play
Constructive play is when children experiment with objects, creating something new. It usually involves play with blocks, playing in the sand or even drawing. It allows them to construct things and even ideas. It has been observed that children who are at ease with manipulating objects also become good at manipulating words, ideas and concepts.
4. Fantasy Play
Children learn to try out new roles and possible situations, as well as experiment with language and emotions with fantasy play. It allows them to stretch their imagination and get creative. Such play encourages lateral thinking.
5. Games With Rules
Games such as passing the parcel or Simon Says which are governed by a set of rules gives children an opportunity to play within the rules and even learn about consequences should they flout the rules. Such games teach children a critical lesson — that the game of life has rules (laws) that we all have to follow and that there are consequences should those rules be broken. Ultimately, just remember what PM Lee said, “No homework is not a bad thing; [it is] good for young children to play, and learn through play.” So engage and interact with your kids today and live a little by letting your hair down and play.
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