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Thursday, December 5, 2019

15 Vital Things Parents Should Know About Play

Photo by Skitterphoto (pixaby)

Play is an integral part of our children's growth and development, and outside of pure fun, there is so much to be gained from play. A healthy body and mind can both be aided by unstructured and structured playtime. The following are some of the many ways children can benefit from play immediately and in the long term.

Bonding through play

Play at any age or phase of development gives children and parents the opportunity to bond and learn about each other. During early development and young elementary, children and parents can develop deep connection and trust through play. The time and attention given to a child during uninterrupted play is invaluable in the bonding experience and can lay the foundation for a healthy parent/child relationship in the future.

Building motor skills through play

Play in many forms is an exercise in gross and fine motor skills, it allows children to practice important movements, focus, strength, and attention. Play is also an excellent way to observe a child's motor skills without interfering with the child's natural reactions and instincts.

Play to find balance

Finding a healthy balance between work, academics, family obligations, and fun is important in every family, because when one of these areas is out of whack, all others are impacted. When making a family schedule, it can be helpful to actually write playtime into the schedule, as that is often the first thing to go by the wayside when people get busy.

Play to reduce stress

When children are engaged in play, they may begin to relax. Nervous or anxious children may be more willing to engage when that engagement is facilitated through play. It is largely accepted that western culture values work and busyness over relaxation and play when compared to other parts of the world. Prioritizing play allows children to shed the weight of the day and relax without expectations or restraints.

Play to explore emotion

Dynamic play allows children to safely explore different emotions as they take on different personas through acting or role playing. This type of play also helps children to better understand a range of emotions from different perspectives. The emotional development practiced through play can translate into real-life application and help them to be more mindful, compassionate individuals.

Making the most of family time through play

Playing as a family, similar to bonding, helps to build a healthy parent/child relationship. It also facilitates important learning opportunities for children to help them to better understand what it means to be a team player, to share, and compromise. Children are observant and can learn a lot from watching their parents and other family members interact.

Children benefit academically from recess and play

Studies have shown the value of recess in our schools and we know that it is important for our children to exercise both their body and their mind daily. Play allows for a necessary mental break that helps in the processing of learned information. It also aids in a child's ability to focus in the classroom.

Leaving room for play is important for a child's mental health

Making time for play is important for a child's mental health. Again, in a culture that largely values full schedules and work, it is important that children be allowed to play in order to balance out the mental load of learning. Anxiety and stress may both be linked to a child being overscheduled or feeling great pressure to perform.

Promote a child's independence through play

Play is a great way for children to learn independence. Too often children are fed instructions on what they need to do and how they need to fill their time. Leaving a child to play without instruction challenges them to come to their own conclusions and empowers them to make decisions. Independent play also helps them to stretch their creative muscles.

Promote an active lifestyle through play

Play is a great way to instill in our children the importance of physical activity and allows them to explore movements that are healthy for their mind and body and bring them joy. If children are given the opportunity to play and exercise as a means of fun, they may be more likely to have a healthier approach to fitness as they grow and view it less as a chore.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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