- Family and Parenting
Why You Should Play With Your Children - Part Two
In part one of this article, we looked at the ways in which play can promote learning through visual stimulus, mental retention and, ultimately, increased confidence in your child. Let’s go on to look at the ways in which this is achieved.
Play is a dynamic process that develops and changes as it becomes increasingly more varied and complex. It is considered a key facilitator for learning and development across domains and reflects the social and cultural contexts in which children live (Christie, 2001; Fromberg, 1998, 2002; Hughes, 1999).
Research has shown us that neurologically, permanent connections are made within a child’s brain when stimulated through play, which provide a scaffold for future development and learning. As children learn to use their bodies in play, they develop increased physical confidence and a facilitation for greater motor skill refinement. They learn, through acceptance of their body’s limitations to adapt their bodies and minds to varying games involving mental and physical interaction with the parent. Again this promotes further self-assurance and body confidence as well as providing increased bonding opportunities between parent and child.
Play in early childhood can take many forms. For very young babies, it can begin as simply hand and facial gestures that are mimicked and rewarded by the parent. This can later develop into the association with sound and emotion as depicted in expression and tone.
For toddlers, play becomes an even more important part of self-awareness. Walking in the rain, making mud pies in the garden and riding on a merry go round all make our children aware of themselves and their state of being within the environment. They are unconsciously learning their capabilities within the world around them. Interaction with other children within a playground or home-play environment teaches them early socialization skills and the benefits of peer interaction.
As children grow, the root of their experiences learned through play expand to encompass more intricate forms of activity to include craft work, art, cooking and music. Again, interaction with your child promotes these in a loving and positive way that, with perseverance and encouragement, will allow your child to discover early passions and talents which may point to his or her future direction in life.
Play should benefit the entire family. It is something that can pay dividends in terms of creative outlet and social awareness for your teenager both in adolescence and later in life when they are inevitably confronted with life’s moral difficulties and choices between right and wrong.
From a parent’s perspective, play is a valuable and teaching and bonding tool, associated with past feelings of pleasure and sharing. For your children, play is the most important gift that you can give in terms of building an understanding and appreciation of oneself, others and the word that surrounds us all. In essence, play is priceless.