Playfulness – Developing Play As A Skill
Every child deserves the chance to develop to their full potential and enjoy the many rewards that come with fun and light-hearted play and playfulness.
Due to our rushed lifestyles, excessive attention to academic achievement, too many extra mural activities and other demanding family expectations, play time is often drastically shortened, with tragic consequences. A lack of play can result in children whose behaviour is demanding and unsettled, who avoid eye contact, have difficulty making friends, rely on constant adult attention, and flit between activities in a limited and repetitive manner.
The benefits of learning the skill of play, however, are invaluable and long lasting. When children are allowed to experiment and direct their own play in a fun and relaxed way, they become very absorbed in what they’re doing which promotes concentration, a sense of adventure and also a good awareness of self and their abilities.
Playing in groups, children learn teamwork, sharing, negotiating, and problem solving. They are afforded the opportunity to practice making decisions and pursuing what they are passionate about, in their own time and at their own pace. While exploring in a carefree world of play, they use their imagination and creativity and develop physical, cognitive and emotional strength, helping them build confidence and resilience.
Some children are naturally playful, while others need a little more support in the form of regular play dates, exposure to different play locations and spending a lot of face to face time with you so that they can learn through watching and imitating. Remember to talk to your child all the time, not to push them too hard and not to compare them with others.
Try these ideas to encourage the advantages of play:
- Singing and playing simple musical instruments for rhythm, movement and listening
- Dancing, running, climbing and ball games for flexibility and coordination
- Dressing up, painting, drawing and playdough for creativity and imagination
- Building blocks and puzzles for shapes, sizes and logic
- Sand and water for maths, science and measurements
- Games for sharing, taking turns and interacting with others
If you believe in promoting your child’s overall health and nurturing a strong parent-child bond, the secret lies in developing playfulness through activities which are enjoyable and pleasurable. Observing your child at play is an excellent window into their unique perspective and joining in with their games shows them you are fully attentive and opens communication and self-expression, especially for children who are withdrawn and less talkative.
The joy of play is a cherished time in childhood and as parents, we need to ensure that play is protected as an important part of bringing balance to our children’s daily experience.