“Play is powerful.” is a quote that I saw at a play center that I took baby when he was a few months old. Before motherhood, I haven’t thought of playing as a ‘positive’ thing since I was in school. There seems to be a general association with play being something that will take away from study time. However, I think my impression on play has changed as I discover how much learning is associated with it. Playing is very important for babies and kids. Through playing, babies learn new things such as fine or gross motor skills, colours and shapes, interaction between people and things, among the many benefits.
From this site Let Children Play, they list 5 reasons for explaining why Play is Powerful. I am adding my thoughts to it.
1. Boosts Physical Activity – playing means being active for babies and toddlers and reduces risk for obesity. Physical activity helps them to stay fit and healthy. This is especially important in this technology age with all smartphones, video games and computers around them. As they get older, they want more room to play – unhindered and unrestricted. There are different forms of play for each age group:
Babies (0 – 6 months):
- Reaching for hanging objects when lying on exercise mat
- Kicking their legs while lying on a baby bouncer or rocker
- Tummy time to strengthen neck muscles
- Pulling (on mommy’s hair)
Babies (6 – 12 months) – some of the above plus:
- Picking up objects and examining
- Walking assisted to learn to balance
- Walking, running, climbing, jumping, throwing, swinging
- Any sport activity
2. Builds Brainpower – Play promotes mental health through social interaction, learn cause and effect, spatial relationships, motor skills, language skills by pointing and communicating with the objects they are playing with. Through the social interaction, play will help kids in advancing through developmental milestones through imitating other kids (peer pressure 🙂 ).
3. Reduce Stress – Kids may have their frustrations and gets stressed too. Through play, they are being silly and just letting go – this will lower their blood pressure and increases endorphins.
4. Develop Imagination and Creativity – Imagination and creativity are very important skills to have for a child and even into adulthood as this is a precursor to developing problem solving skills. Through play, kids go into a pretend world and their imagination develops new situations and ideas and create new solutions to problems in their fantasy world. In a radio interview, a principal once said sometimes the reason for fresh graduates with high academic standing not being able find a job is because they lack creativity in solving problems compared to those with average marks but with great creativity. They are book smart but being ask to provide various solutions to different types of questions they sometimes blank out.
5. Helps Conquer Challenges – In their pretend world, kids may be a doctor who cures a teddy bear with a sickness, a mommy who takes care of a baby doll or a superhero who kills a villain. Whatever these may be, play helps them experience these emotions of conquering challenges and prepares them for the real world later on in life 🙂
Play is the best time we can give to kids when they are young. I think play dates or play groups are great because after each play date, it is rewarding for the kids and adults get to interact while they play with or beside each other.
What do your kids love to play with?