Is Your Child Getting Enough "Vitamin" Play?

Construction Play

Trying to get your kids sit by their study tables and read, write, do their homework like a smart child sometimes gets a bit frustrating.

Why is that? Children’s attention draws strongly to play and enjoyable kids' toys, more than anything else.

But, that’s perfectly natural, beneficial even.

Play research fellows at Cambridge University reveal that play is “one vital ingredient in supporting healthy intellectual, emotional and social development in young children.” What seems an essentially unimportant and trivial activity among the immature turns out to be a key nutrient to a healthy growing child.

So why not allow your kids to play freely every waking day of their lives, instead. You just might be surprised at how they will fare in their studies and in many other aspects of childhood.

Starting this summer holiday. Give your kids a full dose of play throughout the long break.

Play for Brainpower

Playful kids are smart kids. That is why play-based schools recognise the value of unstructured play in their curriculum.

In a preschool program study published in Science, researchers found that incorporating play, along other interpersonal interactions, in classroom activities improves memory, self-control, and cognitive flexibility – skills that are closely associated with school success.    

The kind of play activities that benefits the brain include:

Construction Play

Construction play involves the use of any play material (building blocks, boxes, wood chunks) that kids can build and rebuild to form something real or imaginary. The methods of constructing include stacking assembling or sorting.

How it helps

By figuring out which part of the construction material to assemble with another part, and disassemble them to change into a new one, a child hones his focus and attention – functions mainly controlled by the brain.

Construction play also builds up essential logical and mathematical elements like grouping, sequencing, perspective, weight, and balance. And beyond that, the power of construction toys are as unlimited as the possibilities that kids can form out of them.

Parents’ role

Broaden your child’s experience in construction play by providing them with unusual construction material like bottles, fabric, stones or shells and some accessories to go with them. Teach them how to sew or knit, as well.  

Games with Rules

Games with rules

A kind of structured game, games with rules work in a regulated method, in which participants are bound to follow. Some of the commonly played games with rules for each age gro

up include:

  • Preschoolers (3-4) – Matching Games
  • Grade Schoolers (5-11)- Outdoor Games (Tag, Drop the Hank, Follow the Leader, Simon Says, Hopscotch) and Board Games
  • Pre-Teen – Board Games (Chess and Checkers) and Sports Activities

How it helps

Games with rules no matter how simple or challenging yields cognitive gains to children. They are characteristically logic- and order-based games that children can slowly develop strategies with to win the game.

Parents’ role

The rules of the game itself will teach kids about planning, following rules, and having self-control. Parents should at least remind their child and all participating kids to observe these rules.

Play for Creativity Boost

Every child has a creative potential in them, but when left entirely to their own, even artworks could become a routine activity for them.

An NFER study suggests that children need stimulation to retain a creative mind and develop the skill. And one simple way to achieve that is through play.

Arts and Crafts

Play for Creativity

From painting and drawing to collage making, printing, clay and playdough sculpture, nature crafts, recycling, and garden arts, artful play ideas abound.

Yes, even dirt and mud carry endless creative play potential for kids. Now they have more beneficial reasons to get all dirty and messy in the garden.  

How it helps

Children find it incredibly fascinating to work with different craft materials (including mud), colours, forms, and combinations of them. By acquainting themselves with these materials and creating plays around them, their perception about things widens and their imagination explored even more.

Parents’ role

Besides giving your kids clean materials, safe places to work in, and a few flexible guides, parents can relatively let their children get on their own and explore their creative self.

Pretend Play

Pretend Play

Also called dramatic or symbolic play, pretend play is when a child acts out or invents a character (a mum or dad, dentist, pilot, superhero, pirate or animal) and create their own scenes alone or with peers.

How it helps

By pretending to be who they’re not, they are able to think of possibilities and learn to solve problems. It even helps them cope with difficult situations (even as trivial as looking for their books or toys) by thinking on their feet.

Different age groups has different pretend play style

Preschoolers (3-4) – Uses play objects like bottles or dolls as they are or play-act themselves   
Grade Schooler (5-11) – Has expanded storylines or scenarios with many characters to act with

Parents’ role

Kids are naturally imaginative, but parents can help encourage their imagination by reading books with them, asking a few question about their make-believe stories, and providing them with props and dress-up clothes. Most of all, give them their own space and “privacy” to play out their thoughts, actions, and feelings.

Read more about Play for Healthy Body, Emotional Strength and Sociability, here.

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