The Importance of Play
Did you know a child needs at least 60 minutes of outdoor playtime? Playing outdoors has so many benefits that include but are not limited to: boosting creativity, improving health and emotion well-being, and an increased love of curiosity/exploring.
The topic of play has been gaining more attention lately from the media and experts. Play is being promoted by both teachers and pediatricians. A concept so simple yet so many children aren't getting adequate play time. Why? The fact is, especially with the pandemic, children are getting more screen time than ever. Other factors include child labor, over scheduled academic activities, and unhealthy home environments. I have often heard from parents of my students, "Oh but he loves the IPad so much" but the truth is children also love scented markers, bubbles, play doh, nature walks, and painting rocks. You will find that the benefits of meaningful play outweigh the convenience of screen time. According to this pediatric article (dedicated entirely on benefits of play) "It has been shown to help children adjust to the school setting and even to enhance children’s learning readiness, learning behaviors, and problem-solving skills."
The importance of play does not apply just to early childhood, it can apply to school age children, teenagers and even adults! However, let's look closer at young children for a minute. They are literally built for play. Think of how many times us mothers say, "I wish I had their energy!" Their bodies crave to run around and explore, which is why a lot of my upcoming preschool lessons are going to integrate learning through play. Hands on learning keeps their attention and involves them with the learning process. Benjamin Franklin once said, "tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I will learn,"
If you ever have the time you need to look up Dr. Stuart Brown, and listen to his TED Talks or even checl out his book, "Play" (I will link the book here if you are interested). Dr. Brown is able to compartmentalize play behaviors into subcategories starting as early as in the womb with baby kicks! Crazy, right? Here's his finding on how some ways play help early childhood explore the world:
Feeling inspired to play yet?! I know I am! As you can see there are various types of play and so many benefits. There are so many resources in your very own community to enforce healthy play and a lot of them are free!
*My Blog! :) Shameless self promotion here - I will be sharing my lesson plans starting SOON! These will be free of cost and here to inspire you.
*Your local library - most if not all libraries now have a story time and a play time free. Look into your local library's website
*MOPS - I personally have never been to a MOPS group (moms of preschoolers) but I have heard great things about them. Moms get together and I understand children get play time and socialize. Their might be dues with that, again I don't know a lot about MOPS but I think they have dues you pay.
*KinderMusik - My daughter went to these music classes and loved them. They offer baby and me classes along with toddler and preschool music classes. It is a child and mommy type of deal, It does have a tuition you pay monthly. Children socialize and play with each other and explore music and storytelling. It was very rich in context and experience.
*Dance Class - Check to see whats local to you. The city's rec centers offer classes if you don't want anything super intensive.
*Gymnastics - Again check whats around you and also look into your city's rec
*YOU - Don't be afraid of what YOU have to offer! Are you an amazon mom? Lord knows I am! Save the boxes, throw some crayons in them, and see what your child can create. They don't need fancy monthly toy subscription boxes or even the expensive toys they see at the stores to have fun and play. Children just need the time. Like my mom always told me, "sometimes it's good to be bored." Allow them the time to create something.
Now, turn off Puppy Dog Pals and open your backyard door, it's time to get playing!
Brown, Stuart, and Christopher Vaughan. Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. Reprint, Avery, 2010
Ginsburg, K. R. “The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds.” PEDIATRICS, vol. 119, no. 1, 2007, pp. 182–91. Crossref, doi:10.1542/peds.2006-2697.