Do you know what is the importance of play in early childhood? We thought providing our children with basic needs such as food, shelter, and education is enough. Play does not often come as necessary. However, according to professionals in early childhood, play is a crucial part of healthy childhood development.
In this blog, we will discuss the reasons why play in early childhood is important and what can we, the parents, do to ensure that this need is met. Shall we limit the play time? Well, it is always a good practice to set house rules for the kids so that they play in moderation.
What is the importance of play in early childhood?
The Power of Play for Children
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, playing enhances the structure and function of the brain. It also nourishes executive function, which helps pursue goals and ignore distractions.
Play and learn areas for children have sprouted all around the world, especially in the big cities. It usually comes with a library where children are encouraged to read and play areas designated for different age groups to socialize.
Benefits of Play for Children
Significant brain development occurs during the first two years of their life. Their first years can shape their characters into adulthood, with playtime being crucial in their development. Here are the benefits play can provide our children:
Play reduces obesity in children. Obesity is a severe problem, but if fought head-on by keeping children active throughout the day while providing them with a healthy diet and enough sleep, it can be prevented early.
With the power of play, their coordination, balance, and motor skills are improved. When they start being active early, they can carry the active lifestyle throughout childhood and adulthood. An example of play that can help them physically can be as simple as asking them to put their toys and make the bed.
Because of play, our children can create imaginary worlds, plots, and characters to help them process and express their emotions. With these scenes they can control their heads, children can cope with fear, anger, or frustration.
Here’s a play idea – read a book aloud about feeling frustrated or angry. You can then talk about what made the character angry. You can also share something that makes you feel this way and then introduce a puppet who will ask the child for advice. You can guide the discussion accordingly.
Playtime helps families to bond and improve their social skills. It helps them cooperate and do their parts, collaborate, and compromise with others. With this type of play, parents can teach them early lessons about the roles and rules of society. Play also enhances communication skills that help form relationships.
An example of play that helps enhance social skills is by playing tag, crafting secret languages, or building forts.
Play is essential for brain development. From birth to age three, their brains develop faster compared to any point in their lives. By playing, they can learn to pay attention and remember things they’ve experienced.
When children encounter a problem when they are playing, their reasoning and judgment can be tested. You may observe your child next time and see how they find a solution. Examples of games that can help stimulate their cognitive minds are brain-teasers and puzzles.
How do we motivate our children to dream big? It starts during playtime that they can practice their creativity. By playing, they can let their imaginations run wild and create their own worlds. Do you know that active imagination can also be carried out throughout their lives? It’s best to start early!
What Happens When Time is Reduced for Play?
Unfortunately, it might be difficult for parents who have been burdened with work responsibilities and running the household to still allocate time for play. There is also pressure at work that might affect the time spent with children.
Lack of play, also known as under-stimulation, can lead to poor early child development. It can lead to depression and difficulty with adapting to change. These children will tend to have poor self-control and shallow interpersonal relationships.
Things to Consider About Playtime
- Parents overscheduling programs for their children
Some parents may rather prepare an activity of learning through special enrichment programs instead of playing at home or with their friends. We tend to believe that exposing our children to everything (piano lessons, studying another language, etc) is the best way to prepare them for the real world.
Yes, it might help, but we have to be careful in overscheduling programs for them which can lead to less emotionally competent and well-buffered children.
Also, keep in mind that there are certain traits needed in building character for our children. That includes confidence, ability to master the environment, resilience, honesty, decency, generosity, and compassion – all of these can actually be learned within a home in which parents and children have time together.
- Toys Stereotyping
What has been overlooked in toys for a long time is color stereotyping. Say, for example, girls usually get pink or yellow. While boys would only get blue-colored toys. Let Toys be Toys leads a campaign that asks toy and publishing to stop limiting children’s interest by promoting some toys and books that are only suitable for girls or boys. Unfortunately, the narrowly divided toys are limiting the possibilities and interests of our children.
Studies have shown why play in early childhood is important. It has proven again and again that it is essential to both the brain and emotional development. In these pandemic-stricken times, play is also a tool to fight isolation and loneliness. Thus, as parents, it is our responsibility to ensure that our children are getting enough stimulation with playtime.