How often, as a child, did you play outside? Whether it was in your front yard, back yard, local playground, neighbor’s house, recess, etc… how often did you get outside and play? For that matter, how many times did you just play inside? For many of us, we did this almost every day. Free play was, and still is, very important for kids. And today, we’re going to talk about why free play is important for kids. And, just in case your kids aren’t getting as much free play as they should, we’ll talk about a few ways to get more free play into their day.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Playing is serious business for kids, let them play. #kbnmoms #learnthroughplay” quote=”Kids learn through playing. Let them play and watch them bloom.”]
Just how important is free play?
According to research, very! The childhood obesity epidemic is telling us something; but also, children’s cognitive, social, psychological and emotional development are all said to be affected by free play (or the lack of it). Play is also an opportunity for parents to engage with their children without interruption. (This can be really fun for adults!)
The American Academy of Pediatrics put out a recent report about the importance of play in children’s development. Here are some of the ways children benefit from free play:
* Creativity is employed as children imagine scenarios and act out as characters. This prepares them for adult scenarios, much the same way that baby animals’ play is actually preparation for adulthood.
* Children learn about their strengths and abilities during free play, which may boost confidence. They discover areas of interest and things they care about.
* Playing is an effective way for children to learn how to work together in groups, to give and take, and to resolve conflicts. Free play also encourages decision making, an essential life skill.
[clickToTweet tweet=”How often do your kids just play? Encourage them to play more! #kbnmoms #learnthroughplay” quote=”Get your kids off the devices or tv show, and let them just play.”]
How To Get More Free Play Into Your Child’s Life
* Give your kids “real” toys, like wooden blocks and dolls that are not patterned after a preconceived character. Doll houses, cars, trucks, stuffed animals, and other toys that encourage imagination help toward encouraging free play.
* Parents may want to rethink their ideas of “success” for their children. Academic preparedness and performance and excelling in multiple areas are not the only measures of success, the AAP reminds us. Creativity, philosophical intelligence, imagination, negotiation, and artistic integrity are also measures of success and character.
* Let your kids play outside without an agenda. Sometimes, it takes an agenda to get them out there – say, collecting leaves or something – but once outside, try to pry yourselves loose from an agenda and just enjoy playing.
* Invite other kids to play, too. Although “play dates” are scheduled, it’s non-scheduled time you’re scheduling in! Arrange to meet at a park, at one another’s house, or other area where free play can take place.
How Play Factors Into Childhood Development
Playtime need not be structured in order to successfully help your child grow and learn. Unstructured playtime has been often neglected in the busy world we live in. Strive to make time daily for your child to amuse themselves without any obvious educational goals. When your child creates, explores and finds their own adventures, it will be some of the greatest times they experience, and you will find hidden gifts in each of your children.
Playtime Alone and with Friends
Playtime alone is important and so is playtime with friends. Children act differently in groups than they do when alone. In a group, your child will learn the values of teamwork, compromise, and relationship problem solving. Think you know your child? Put them in a group and see your child in a whole new light. You may find that your child not only works well in a group, but shines with their leadership qualities. By also giving your child playtime alone, you will see what they gravitate towards when they are not required to be giving constant attention to other children.
When your child plays, their habits will become apparent. Perhaps your child takes many breaks to dance, or is always going back to their building blocks. Maybe they have a habit of asking for someone to play with, or enjoy anything involving bright colors. You can learn a lot about your child’s personality by simply observing them while they enjoy their surroundings.
Exposure to Many New Activities
Exposing your child to many new activities is a great way to let their personality and unique abilities shine through. Let your child try a variety of sports, instruments, hobbies and activities and take note of what they like to spend most of their time on, and what they ask to return to. This will give you a lot of information about what they might excel at when they are older and what areas they are exceptionally gifted in.
There is a time and a place for educational playtime. Expose your child to a variety of toys and activities that will help them learn. The skills they gain through this education will help them with the basics such as reading and counting, which will open doors for them to discover even more gifts that may be hidden within them. You may be raising a small but talented scientist or accountant.
Playtime is one of the most important times in a child’s life. It has been said that if children had a job, playing would be that job. It is up to you as a parent to provide your child with many opportunities to play in various situations and atmospheres in order to help them achieve all the potential within them – including their great hidden potential.
You, as a parent, will surely assist in this special and important task that will go with them for the rest of their lives.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Play is important in development. Life and social skills are learned. #kbnmoms #learnthroughplay” quote=”Kids can learn so much just by playing- either alone or with friends.”]
Five Benefits of Playing Outdoors
As a reminder of how important it is for you to get your kids outside on a regular basis, check out these 5 benefits of outdoor play for children.
1 – Vision Is Enhanced
Even in the largest home, vision is stymied by distance. Your child doesn’t need to process visual information for very long distances. Outdoors, the human eye takes in everything within its range of vision.
Proof of the benefit of enhanced vision for children playing outdoors was reported by Optometry and Vision Science. They have released a study which shows that children who spend more time outside have better distance vision than those who play indoors most of the time.
2 – Mental Health Skyrockets
There is plenty of recent research which shows the importance of interaction with nature for mental health and well-being. Just 10 to 15 minutes in an environment with natural green colors like plants, grass and trees has been linked to improved memory and concentration. Playing outdoors in a natural, green colored environment also reduces the development and symptoms of neurological disorders.
3 – Attention Span Increases
Scientific research once again shows the importance of getting your kids to play outside. Time spent in outdoor settings in some magical way increases the attention span of children, and adults as well. The correlation has been proven, if not the reason behind this wonderful benefit.
4 – Contributes to Healthy Levels of Vitamin D
Unfortunately, the food our children eat is largely processed and unhealthy. This leads to a rash of vitamin deficiencies. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that more and more children these days are displaying a vitamin D deficiency.
This can lead to bone problems, heart disease, diabetes and other significant health disorders. Just 10 to 20 minutes of exposure to sun on your skin creates the manufacture of vitamin D in the human body. That is enough time to manufacture your child’s daily requirement of vitamin D.
5 – Social Skills Are Approved
Strong social skills lead to success in so many ways. Your child can develop personal relationships, professional relationships and learn to communicate effectively. Multiple studies show that when you are able to communicate and socialize, you make more money in your lifetime than someone who possesses poor social skills. When your children play outside they often play with others, which gives their social skills a boost.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Playing outside has so many benefits for kids! #kbnmoms #learnthroughplay” quote=”Let your kids play outside and watch the world through their eyes.”]
And while you’re encouraging your kids to play, join them. Play is beneficial for adults, too.