Whilst the topic of this blog may sound blindingly obvious I think it’s all too easy for us parents to get complacent sometimes and assume that our kids can amuse themselves or resort to TV parenting. I’ve done I, I hold my hands up and admit it. Sometimes I can’t face yet another game of imaginary play as my brain is mashed from a day’s writing or doing PR and so I take the wimps option and resort to some TV time or computer time on the CBeebies or Tiny Pop websites. Play is vital for kids though in helping them learn vital social skills and to also give them quality time with you. So I am delighted to be supporting the Make Time To Play campaign this year to highlight just how important it is.
Through the study, experts like Dr Gummer aim to explain why play is so important for kids and not just a reward or a waste of time.
In the past, little thought was given to the importance of play and how it contributed to the developing child, so it is natural that some parents see it as simply a fun activity, a reward, or even a waste of time.
However, the government, teachers and Ofsted have all realised that play helps children learn. Incorporating fun themes to children’s learning makes the experience more memorable for them and also less daunting so they will be more likely to do it again – bingo, they’re learning!
Think about your own childhood… Did sitting writing under the instruction of a teacher help you prepare for adulthood, or was it the real-life experiences where they developed new skills and understanding?
Did reading a parenting book prepare you for changing their child’s nappy perfectly, or was it through the trial and error of practical application.
There is a difference between helping a child to learn and pushing a child to learn. Books such as “Einstein Never Used Flash Cards…” explain how children who are pressured early on do not fare any better than children who are allowed to take their time.
The advice is simple: children learn best through simple playtime which enhances problem solving skills, attention span, social development and creativity.
When it comes to play, what’s most important are the social skills children learn. Relationships are the bedrock of society and children who play develop mutually rewarding relationships learn to compromise, communicate and negotiate, all of which give them much better outlooks for future careers and mental health.
The mistake that many people make is to believe that because you don’t always know what the child is going to learn through play, they’re not learning anything.
Even the most frivolous activity is beneficial for children as it helps them understand themselves better – learning what makes you happy and what makes you laugh helps children cope with challenges and acts as a buffer against mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
So remember – play is vital to a child’s healthy development and not just something to be done as a reward or an afterthought.
This morning Roo and I had an amazing adventure time. I’d been away yesterday and she’d missed me so after breakfast we got all her Moshi Monsters out; they went on an make believe adventure button surfing down the hallway doing stunts and tricks and then got eaten by imaginary sharks. We pretended then that her Skoot case was a racing car and we got utensils from the kitchen to fix it’s wheels and make it go faster, painting on flames with a pastry brush for extra effect. It all then went wrong as it began to rain and we had to hide under a Hello Kitty umbrella in the extension and keep the car covered so the paint didn’t get wet and run off. For Roo she had an amazing two hours playing with me and went off to school happy as a lark, smiling and ready for afternoon’s learning.
What favourite games do you love to play with your kids?