Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a report which tells parents just how important play is for children. It seems that today’s kids are spending less and less time playing every day, much less than they did a decade ago. The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights says play is so important in child development that it is a right of every child.
Parents and Play
The amount of play time has been reduced both at school and at home as school districts have increased the importance of academics, reducing free time such as recess. Plus, children’s playtime at home has been reduced due to the hectic lifestyles of working parents and the focus parents are putting on their children’s homework and academics.
The AAP report says that children develop their creativity, their dexterity and their strengths — physical abilities, social skills and cognitive skills — through play, so it’s very important for parents to play with their children. Children mostly learn social skills — to share, to play with others and to work in groups — through play. Kids who play regularly have less stress and anxiety.
The key to helping your children is playing with them. It’s very important for parents to take time out of their busy days to go outside and play with their kids. Encourage your child to run around and play outside rather than sit inside in front of a video game. By emulating positive physical activity behaviors, you’ll not only help your kids develop creatively, but you’ll also help them develop healthy habits they’ll have all their lives. This can help them counteract the obesity issues that many kids face today.
Ways to Get Out and Play with Your Kids
There are a number of ways to encourage your kids to play, but first, you have to make time for play. You are your child’s biggest supporter when it comes to learning. Make sure they have as much time to play as possible during the day in order to promote their physical, cognitive and emotional development. Here are a few simple ways to do that:
- There are many different kinds of play: You can play games with rules, games where your child simply runs around and has fun. It can be simple or complex. Children learn through play, and the great outdoors can help improve their health, so decrease screen time and head outside. Make up some fun games with rules, play tag, or play around on your outdoor jungle gym or swing set. As long as you’re interacting, having fun and moving, your kids are benefitting.
- Incorporate learning: Learning and play can go together. Think of some of the games your kids play in PE class. Those activities are generally designed to help children learn to cooperate, work as a team and develop social skills. You can design games outside (or inside) that use your kids’ cognitive skills. Maybe add simple math to familiar games (“Simon says take 2 plus 4 steps forward”).
- Take it outside as much as possible: Build a fort, run around the backyard, head to the park or beach, sled, go on a scavenger hunt or play games with other children in the neighborhood. It’s important for your child to learn to love the outdoors, as heading outside can alleviate stress and depression, plus it gives them a lot more room to run!
No matter what you do, remember how important it is to play with your children. It will help them and it will help you!