Parenting Pre-Schoolers
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The Importance of Play - Part 2
August 22, 2018

Earlier this month, we discussed the importance of playtime for our children. We found out that free play is necessary for many types of our child’s development. Today we are going to explore examples of these and how you can help your child make the most of their playtime.

We now know that playtime has a direct result on social and emotional development and cognitive growth. The time before the age of three has been referred to as a “critical period” in brain development. Knowing that, as parents we can provide the most well-rounded opportunities for our child to grow and learn. Playtime is one of the first opportunities that a child has to discover the world. Time for free play has been reduced for some children due to more busy lifestyles, changes in family structures, and an increased number of activities. As parents, we must help to find a balance between structured activities and free play.

You may have a newborn or small infant and think that your child isn’t quite up to playing just yet. At this young age parents can initiate play and show babies how toys work. You can shake the toy that makes noise or make faces, different sounds and smile at your baby. This is play for them. This is how they begin to understand how things happen. As a child grows, their play changes. Around the age of two and older, you may be drawn into what they want to do. The older a child is, the more they will direct the play.

Let’s look into the different types of development with which playtime assists. First, playtime leads to skill development. Infants learn hand-eye coordination by reaching for and playing with toys. As children grow, games and puzzles increase problem solving skills. Has your child ever been so engrossed in what they were doing that they didn’t hear you call their name? That playtime is helping with concentration, focusing on a task, expanding attention span and memory. Any type of physical play will assist in maturing large-motor skills and physical development.

Play also aids in a child’s social skills. At first adults are a child’s primary playmate. As children get older, they will enjoy interacting with other children whether it is playing alongside or just observing. This is a way they learn to get along with others and learning that others have wants and feelings, too. This is where they will learn about sharing, kindness and being part of a group. Social play can strengthen language skills and help children understand social rules.

Playtime helps to cultivate and express a child’s imagination and creativity. When a child is pretending to be a princess or a cowboy they are working through their own ideas and emotions. Colouring, painting, any type of creating falls into this category. Creativity has been shown to help brain development.

Make sure that your children have access to “true toys” like blocks or dolls. Another example could be dress up clothes, play kitchen/household items, and action figures. These toys aren’t electronic and stimulate creativity instead of requiring a more passive participation. Remember to include books at all ages. By reading to our kids from a very young age we can instill a love for books and the pictures/stories inside of them long before they can read themselves.

Who knew that playtime was so important? Let’s not be in such a hurry for our children to grow up. Nurture and protect their playtime. Trust that God is working in them through their play. Make time to join them and savour the blessings of playtime with your little one.

With blessings,

Filed under: Parenting Pre-Schoolers


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