Play is essential for developing social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills in children. Far from being a waste of time, just a fun distraction, extracurricular, or an optional activity, play is a time when children are learning the most.
When children are playing, they are learning body awareness and control, developing gross and fine motor skills and increasing flexibility and balancing skills. As an added bonus, when children are involved in physical activity, they’re building stronger muscles and establishing the basic foundation for an active and healthy lifestyle.
Due to our fast paced lifestyle and children’s increasing access to technology, the amount of time children spend engaged in imaginative, free, or physical play has decreased significantly. As parents, we are the best advocates for play, and can assist our children by limiting their and our screen time, we can set an example of a healthy and active lifestyle that includes play as one of the main components. This is an important first step in steering our children towards the path to good health.
Play has a critical role in helping children develop emotionally. Play helps children build self-confidence and esteem, experiment with various emotions, express their emotions, and learn to deal with their fears and scary experiences. Play allows children to fully express themselves without anyone or anything holding them back. Children love to play for many reasons, including visiting with friends outside of school, meeting new peers and engaging in fun and imaginary games.
Play creates a complex context and social medium where children learn valuable everyday life lessons about interacting with others, social norms and independence, all while gaining important relationship-building skills. So let’s get out there and play!