From the age of 18 months to three years, engaging your child in playful activities will help nurture his social, creative, linguistic communication skills and eventually, prepare him for school. When a child engages himself in hands-on playful activities at home, it helps to refine his listening and reasoning skills.
What is the True Importance of Play in Early Childhood?
A child is born with an innate talent and urge to learn new things through exploration and imitation. For instance, when a toddler attains the walking age, he does not like to be carried around. He insists on standing up and walking on his own tiny feet. As the little one grows, the parents should instill new skills and also teach him new things through play, as it becomes important for your child’s intellectual, emotional, and social development.
Through play, kids learn about themselves and the world around. They grow into active and mature adults, who behave better and are aware of other people’s feelings. They develop negotiation, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills. You could rightly say that play is an integral part of learning. In fact, it is a unique way of providing knowledge and values to our children and is an excellent mode for learning with fun and curiosity.
The Role of Play in Child Development
Today, obesity is one of the most common problems among children. They are so glued to the television, or engaged in computer games that they hardly venture out. Also, kids are very addicted to eating junk food. Hence, it becomes really important that they invest some time playing outdoors every day. By engaging your child in outdoor games and playful exercises, he remains active and fit, thus curbing chances of childhood obesity.
Introducing your child to mobile, video, or computer games at an early stage will not help in developing his physical and motor skills; instead running, or jumping would give you those results. For the brain to develop, he must be involved in outdoor and physical activities; only then will he learn about bonding, negotiating, sharing, and contributing in a group. This will not only promote moral values in your child, but will also help him to develop physically and psychologically.
Good Sensory and Motor Skills
Indulging in outdoor games helps develop and coordinate the sensory and motor skills of a child. Your child can indulge in many multi-sensory activities that teach a child to understand and learn through touch, sight, and sound.
Language Skills Improve
Singing along with your child, or engaging in activities involving rhyming words enhances his linguistic and vocabulary development. Experts opine that it is necessary to nurture verbal language skills in the early years of childhood rather than teaching word recognition and phonetics. By talking, singing songs, reciting poems, and storytelling, you enhance language skills in your child.
Brings a Balance
An old English proverb goes like this: ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. Hence, parents should find time to balance playful activities in their child’s life. Recall how you felt when you enjoyed climbing monkey bars, playing hopscotch, flying kites, building blocks, skipping, playing dressing up games or basketball, painting, or hide and seek. Playing should be all about having fun; introduce and incorporate these games in your child’s schedule.
Have you ever noticed how little children teach other kids and get them involved in a particular game? Children, especially those around the age of three and above, begin to socialize with others of their own age group. This activity helps them grow, get involved, and teaches them to have a good time together.
Play also helps to hone their numerical and mathematical skills. Children are able to grasp the concepts of math easily if started at an early stage. As a parent, it is your responsibility to develop this skill by engaging them in activities, such as counting the number of objects in a stack, teaching them relationships — like short and long, big and small, more and less, etc.
By playing, children are actually learning and preparing themselves for the challenges of adulthood. Your child would be emotionally fulfilled, relaxed, energized, and self-confident when he enjoys playing. His attention and concentration levels would also improve drastically. He would be eager to learn, explore, experiment, and imagine more. So, let your children play as it is essential for their optimal, emotional, intellectual, and creative development.
Parents and preschool educators have an important responsibility to shape the minds of our future generation by using play as a mode to impart moral values and other fundamentals to our children, right from kindergarten. Through play, children not only learn many new skills, but also develop self-esteem. One thing worth mentioning here is, parents must learn to respect the interests of their children and let them take the lead while playing. Play helps in developing a healthy and long-lasting relationship between a child and his parents. It also helps the parents gain an insight into the thought process of their kid.