Let’s talk about Play. I’m guessing that most of you, if not all of you, know to some degree the importance of play. Today though, I want to really lay it out plainly for you, especially because almost everything I will discuss on development will be facilitated through play. A common phrase that I hear in my field is that a child’s work is play. I believe it is more than just work. Play is a child’s whole life. It is how children explore the world around them, physically and socially. Play is essential in development and every child should have access to unobstructed time to play; where they can explore, learn, create. I want to discuss just a few benefits of play.
Benefits of Play:
- Allows for creativity
- Promotes healthy brain development
- Helps children interact and engage with the world around them
- Children learn skills that improve their confidence and resiliency
- Un-directed play, especially in groups, teaches sharing, advocacy and leadership
- Children start to form their own likes and dislikes, they become more self aware
Isn’t that an amazing list?! And that is just a few benefits of play. I feel pretty confident saying that almost all parents want these benefits for their own child. And the great thing about play is that you don’t have to go anywhere to play and you don’t have to have anything special. Just time and encouragement.
As a Child Development Specialist my means of therapy is play; we use play to motivate children to talk, walk, interact, and listen. Play makes all the difference in a child’s world. I see so many children that don’t play very often, and when we introduce play as an important part of their routine, they just flourish! They are more social, have more communication, and are more confident.
Child Directed vs. Adult Directed Play:
Adult directed play is just what it sounds like, play that is directed by the adult. For example, directing your child to do a puzzle. You are giving your child the pieces, helping them find where they go, and correcting them when they can’t get it in themselves. Child directed play is the opposite. The child is in charge of their play. They are exploring the puzzle board, the puzzle pieces, and they may not know how the pieces fit but might try to put them in upside down. Both of these types of play are important, but I see a lot of adult directed play and not as much child directed play. It should be the opposite! Children should have time to direct their own play so that they can explore and use their own problem solving skills. It is good for parents to model play for their child (like teaching them that they can turn a puzzle piece around or that they can push the piece in) but it’s important to remember to not take over.
Now, Child Directed play doesn’t always mean that you let your child play alone in their room. Children like to play with others, but child directed play means that they get to lead. If they want to look at the pictures on a puzzle board, let them show you! Then, maybe as they go, show them that they can put a puzzle piece in. This way your children are leading but you are still teaching them a skill.
I’m so excited to be apart of helping you nurture your sprout! Make some time today to play with your little one and please share your experiences with me and our readers! I love hearing!
P.S. If you ever have any concerns about your own child’s development, please contact your local school district. The earlier the help they get, the more success they will have!!
*The information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Please consult your healthcare provider before making any diet or treatment decisions.