Playing allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength.
By Ivy Maloy
Playing is an essential part in childhood development as it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children and youth. Playing offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children and children with other children. But not all children get to enjoy this right as some of them are challenged by so many forces such as child labor, exploitations, war and neighborhood violence and the limited resources available to children living in poverty.
Many children nowadays are being raised in an increasingly hurried and pressured style that may limit the protective benefits of playing. Every child deserves the opportunity to develop to their own unique potential. Child advocates must consider all factors that interfere with crucial development and press for the circumstances that allow each child to fully reap the advantages associated with play.
Have you ever sat down and looked at children playing among themselves or with their peers? The joy in their faces is so fulfilling and gives one such a magical feeling. Their beautiful laughter is just enough to keep you going. When parents observe their children playing or join them, they are given an opportunity to see the world from their child’s vantage point as the child navigates a world perfectly created just to fit his or her needs.
Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adults. As they master their world, play helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges. Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills.
When play is allowed to be child driven, children practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover their own areas of interest, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue. Ideally, much of play involves adults, but when play is controlled by adults, children comply to adult rules and concerns and lose some of the benefits playing offers them, particularly in developing creativity, leadership, and group skills as they won’t be fully comfortable to be themselves. This helps the parents to learn how to communicate more effectively with their children building an endearing relationship between them.
Playing is also an integral part of academics. It ensures that the school setting attends to the social and emotional development of children as well as their cognitive development. 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. Social-emotional learning is best integrated with academic learning; it is concerning if some of the forces that enhance children’s ability to learn are elevated at the expense of others. Play and scheduled time that allow for peer interactions are important components of social-emotional learning.
Despite the numerous benefits of playing, time for free play has been reduced over the past years for most school going children for their play time has to be reduced to study, and do assignments and other academic related work. School children currently have less free time and fewer physical outlets in schools.
It is important for children to play, be encouraged to play and take part in physical exercises in order for them to be all round kids. A happy kid is a healthy kid and what more to make one than to give them time to play!