Image credit: Pexels

When we are asked about our favorite childhood memories, I am sure a substantial portion involves playing with loved ones and friends. In my personal opinion, play is even more important than education; when done correctly, it is an education in itself. Play is where a child learns the limitless power of his or her imagination and develops confidence in their abilities—that is, willpower—through the mastery of motor movements.

Brain development is strengthened by play. It is how children, at a very early age, engage with and interact with the world. As they explore and master challenges, they build new competencies and skills, which enhance confidence and build tenacity. Both qualities are necessary to help them face future challenges in life. A child’s development is positively affected by consistent and loving relationships with parents as they interact through play. Quite simply, the bonds between parent and child are built and strengthened when playing together.

Playing with your child offers benefits to you as well. Science has shown that when parents play with their children, the hormone oxytocin is released. Oxytocin is associated with trust and relationship-building. Another benefit of oxytocin is that it counteracts the effects of stress, reducing blood pressure, anxiety, and fear. Play is a win-win for both of you!

What Do Kids Learn From It?

Your child will continue to play throughout childhood and you may be surprised at the number of skills they develop such as:

  • Learning to exercise problem-solving skills
  • Showing an ability to think flexibly
  • Practicing processing their emotions
  • Facing their fears
  • Trying new things without fear of making a mistake

Older children also gain something additional while they play—they discover their interests and passions. Your child may find that they have a love for a specific activity such as art or acting, or possibly for an animal or character. Playtime will encourage them to continue exploring their interests and building skills they will use in the future.

All children should have time for play.

It is the building block for establishing confidence, coping abilities, flexibility, and positive interactions with others. Through play, your child will be able to apply these skills as they grow into a young adult.

Different types of play:

1. Unstructured, free play is an unplanned play that just happens, depending on what captures your child’s interest at the time. It is particularly important for younger children because it allows them to use their imagination and move at their own pace.

Examples of unstructured play can be:

  • Creative play alone or with others, including artistic or musical games.
  • Imaginative games, such as making cubbyhouses with boxes or blankets, dressing up, or playing make-believe.
  • Exploring new or favorite spaces like cupboards, backyards, parks, playgrounds, and so on.

You can be part of your child’s unstructured play. However, sometimes all you’ll need to do is point your child in the right direction—towards the jumble of dress-ups and toys on their floor, or to the table with crayons and paper. At other times, you might need to be more active. For example, you could say, ‘How about we play dress-ups? What do you want to be today?’

Structured play is organized and happens at a fixed time or in a set space. It’s often led by a grown-up. Older children are more likely to enjoy and benefit from structured play.

Examples of structured play include:

  • Outdoor ball games like kicking a soccer ball.
  • Water familiarisation classes for toddlers or swimming lessons for older children.
  • Storytelling groups for toddlers and preschoolers at the local library.
  • Dance, music, or drama classes for children of all ages.
  • Family board or card games.
  • Modified sports for slightly older children, like Cricket Blast, Aussie Hoops basketball, NetSetGO netball, Come and Try Rugby, and Auskick football.

Parents who play with their children form a stronger bond with them. Even simple games like scavenger hunts can become a special bonding moment for both parents and children. These interactions provide positive life experiences that stimulate children’s brain development.

Last but not least, happy, playful moments are some of the most precious gifts we can give our children.

Final Thoughts on Play

Because play is imperative in a child’s development, play-based preschools may provide a better learning environment than other alternatives.

When choosing a preschool, parents should pay attention to how classes are conducted, whether the “play to learn” approach is used, and how much free play is allowed. Creating a Montessori home is also a good alternative.

-Sugandha Dutt is a certified graphologist and therapist with 10 years of experience in psychotherapy, counseling, correctional homes, schools, and seminars.

Playful Parenting

Image credit: Pexels

When we are asked about our favorite childhood memories, I am sure a substantial portion involves playing with loved ones and friends. In my personal opinion, play is even more important than education; when done correctly, it is an education in itself. Play is where a child learns the limitless power of his or her imagination and develops confidence in their abilities—that is, willpower—through the mastery of motor movements.

Brain development is strengthened by play. It is how children, at a very early age, engage with and interact with the world. As they explore and master challenges, they build new competencies and skills, which enhance confidence and build tenacity. Both qualities are necessary to help them face future challenges in life. A child’s development is positively affected by consistent and loving relationships with parents as they interact through play. Quite simply, the bonds between parent and child are built and strengthened when playing together.

Playing with your child offers benefits to you as well. Science has shown that when parents play with their children, the hormone oxytocin is released. Oxytocin is associated with trust and relationship-building. Another benefit of oxytocin is that it counteracts the effects of stress, reducing blood pressure, anxiety, and fear. Play is a win-win for both of you!

What Do Kids Learn From It?

Your child will continue to play throughout childhood and you may be surprised at the number of skills they develop such as:

  • Learning to exercise problem-solving skills
  • Showing an ability to think flexibly
  • Practicing processing their emotions
  • Facing their fears
  • Trying new things without fear of making a mistake

Older children also gain something additional while they play—they discover their interests and passions. Your child may find that they have a love for a specific activity such as art or acting, or possibly for an animal or character. Playtime will encourage them to continue exploring their interests and building skills they will use in the future.

All children should have time for play.

It is the building block for establishing confidence, coping abilities, flexibility, and positive interactions with others. Through play, your child will be able to apply these skills as they grow into a young adult.

Different types of play:

1. Unstructured, free play is an unplanned play that just happens, depending on what captures your child’s interest at the time. It is particularly important for younger children because it allows them to use their imagination and move at their own pace.

Examples of unstructured play can be:

  • Creative play alone or with others, including artistic or musical games.
  • Imaginative games, such as making cubbyhouses with boxes or blankets, dressing up, or playing make-believe.
  • Exploring new or favorite spaces like cupboards, backyards, parks, playgrounds, and so on.

You can be part of your child’s unstructured play. However, sometimes all you’ll need to do is point your child in the right direction—towards the jumble of dress-ups and toys on their floor, or to the table with crayons and paper. At other times, you might need to be more active. For example, you could say, ‘How about we play dress-ups? What do you want to be today?’

Structured play is organized and happens at a fixed time or in a set space. It’s often led by a grown-up. Older children are more likely to enjoy and benefit from structured play.

Examples of structured play include:

  • Outdoor ball games like kicking a soccer ball.
  • Water familiarisation classes for toddlers or swimming lessons for older children.
  • Storytelling groups for toddlers and preschoolers at the local library.
  • Dance, music, or drama classes for children of all ages.
  • Family board or card games.
  • Modified sports for slightly older children, like Cricket Blast, Aussie Hoops basketball, NetSetGO netball, Come and Try Rugby, and Auskick football.

Parents who play with their children form a stronger bond with them. Even simple games like scavenger hunts can become a special bonding moment for both parents and children. These interactions provide positive life experiences that stimulate children’s brain development.

Last but not least, happy, playful moments are some of the most precious gifts we can give our children.

Final Thoughts on Play

Because play is imperative in a child’s development, play-based preschools may provide a better learning environment than other alternatives.

When choosing a preschool, parents should pay attention to how classes are conducted, whether the “play to learn” approach is used, and how much free play is allowed. Creating a Montessori home is also a good alternative.

-Sugandha Dutt is a certified graphologist and therapist with 10 years of experience in psychotherapy, counseling, correctional homes, schools, and seminars.