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The importance of play in children’s development

Play for children has been there since time immemorial. The tradition has been passed from one generation to the other. Children’s plays are not usually structured or regulated. The kids are left to make the rules and decide how the games will be conducted. Interestingly, even during difficult times, kids will find ways to be playful.

As a parent or a guardian, did you know that your child’s play is crucial for their development? Well, when you allow your child to play with other kids in the neighborhood, you are not wasting their time. Instead, you are promoting their social, physical and emotional well-being right from their childhood to their adulthood. Unfortunately, time for some kids to play has been reduced significantly for various reasons such as changes in family structure, loss of outdoor play areas, harried lifestyles and increased attention on academic performance. All these activities are given priority at the expense of the child’s playtime. This article is meant to help parents, guardians and teachers see the importance of play to childhood development and how they can help the children get the best out of their fun games.

Why you should allow your child to play with other kids

Play contributes a lot to a child’s development. No wonder the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights recognizes play as a right to every child. If you haven’t given much thought on the benefits your child stands to gain when he/she plays with other kids, the benefits below will surprise you.

Advances physical development

If you want your child to develop different skills in life, allow them to play outside with other kids. For instance, rope skipping improves balance, sporting activities such as football or swimming improve coordination. Furthermore, play helps your child maintain a healthy weight and avoid any chances of becoming obese. So, don’t let your child watch TV all day and lose such a beautiful benefit.

Stimulates creative thinking

One of the best-known benefits of play is its ability to spark creative thinking to the children. Creative thinking and divergent thinking are intertwined. Therefore, when children participate in free play especially the pretend-play, their divergent thinking is significantly improved. Unstructured plays allow kids to design their games and as a result, become more creative. So, if you admire that little girl who does impressive things, your child could also do the same or even more if you give them a chance. Encourage your children to use their imagination, it will help them even in their adult life. It doesn’t have to be limited to arts, creativity can also help one to be innovative and invent new products later in life.

Improves communication skills

When kids play together, they also communicate and this greatly improves their performance on language, writing and pre-reading. The kids get a platform to practice the vocabularies they have learnt from others. As they argue and reach agreements, their communication skills improve significantly.

Promotes social skills

When children interact with one another as they play, that togetherness creates complex storylines. It is in that interaction that children will learn to share, negotiate and cooperate. While mastering these skills won’t come automatically, with time and as they get older, they will master it. Hence, don’t be overprotective because you don’t want to see your child arguing on who to do this or that role. As children agree and disagree, they develop very vital social skills. While you may intervene in case they are going overboard, ensure you do it in moderation.

How to promote child play

Now that you know child play is important, you may be wondering what you can do to improve the quality of your child play. Here are ways that can help you to guide your child into beneficial plays.

Help your child get new friends

Although your child will find new playmates once they settle in preschool, it is also important to help them get friends outside school as well. Kids love to play whether at school or at home. If the only playmates they know are their schoolmates, then they will be lonely when out of school. You can begin by scheduling playdates. You can also talk to other neighbors who have kids and create a playgroup. Since they are not fond of each other, they may not know where to begin. Take the lead and introduce new activities. The children’s mood will guide you on the games they want to participate. As they interact and enjoy the games, you can then take the back seat and only keep a distance eye on the children behaviour. Do this as often as you can.

Facilitate toys

Children enjoy playing with toys. Buying toys can be an expensive affair. Therefore, you need to be smart if you want the children to have fun without going deeper into your pockets. For example, go for the toys that can be used in various ways, that are appealing to kids of different ages, that can be used with other toys to create something unique, that can assist the children in the development of important skills in life and most importantly, that can stand the test of time. Also, get the best quality so that they can serve the kids for longer and if possible throughout their childhood years.

Set a good example

One of the easiest ways to promote your children’s play is to take the lead. Otherwise, how will you tell your child that playing improves their physical health and you can’t even work out? Your child should see you engaging in physical activities rather than in sedentary activities even at home. This way, they will know that when they play, they not only have fun but their bodies also benefit health-wise.

Final thoughts

Take advantage of summer and allow your kids to interact with other kids outside. They will learn something important they had not probably learnt at home or at school. Besides, work without play makes John a dull boy. If you want your kids to improve their performance at school, home or any activities they take part in, ensure you create time for them to play with other children.

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