It’s all about PlayMost of us have watched kittens and puppies at play. We have even watched large cats with their fierce teeth and even fiercer growls tolerate their young playing, chewing on their ears and pawing their faces.
It’s probably because we grownups understand that our young are ‘learning via play’. It’s a skill beneficial to all ages of people and it cannot be overemphasized for the young. It’s all about watching and learning to communicate, behave co-operatively in a group and learning our ways.
As children grow, we reduce our play ‘with’ them, forgetting that their formative years are crucial to learning. It’s good for families and extended families which include friends and other relatives to play together and make space for their youngest. As the African proverb goes, It takes a village to raise a child.
What can play teach?Play and pretend play are both crucial to kids in their early years. Play can improve:
• A child’s competence
• Gross motor skills
• Interaction with peers
• Cognitive development
• The regulation of emotions
• Levels of oxytocin, which help in better social skills
• Kids stay relaxed
Kids benefit by playing with peers, sibling and parents. With parents or other caregivers, they tend to play a lot of games where two people are required. Most importantly, kids love playing with their parents – it’s an unexplained joy for the kids. Play with kids could be pretend, instructive, physical or plain old fun.
A two way streetPlaying with kids benefits kids, but what is seldom remembered by busy adults is that play benefits the adults too. A few benefits:
• Reduced stress levels
• Better bonding with children
• The hormone oxytocin is released during play, which helps in bonding and it makes adults feel good
• Kids can mirror behaviour, on seeing which we can comprehend that we are bordering on bad behaviour (!)
More than anything else, if we have kids, we should engage and have fun with them. Before we know it, they grow up and their interest in peers increases, when interest in parents takes a backseat, in the natural cycle of things.
Easy play activitiesSome simple and easily doable activities which can include multiple people are –
• Take turns to paint on a large sheet of paper, creating a ‘group painting’ masterpiece
• Play phonetic word games (allow children to make up words when they can’t come up with one!)
• Count things and call them out – clouds, flowers, petals, fries on a plate
• Cook together and make sure the youngest gets a safe chore
• Play something online together. A few of our favourites - Fun games, Hidden Pictures, Pet Games
Never forget, play together. It’s good for all – young and old.
George Schalter loves being a dad. He and his wife share the joys and responsibilities of bringing up their children. As believers of good all round education, they spend a lot of time playing with their children and spending time outdoors. Being the writer in the family, he blogs at http://educationalkidsgames.edublogs.org/
Do you play with your kids? What kinds of things do you like to play together?
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