Tuesday, June 13

How play helps children build strength and practise key skills

In a world that is becoming increasingly digital, it is not surprising that children are spending more and more time on electronic devices. And while there is undoubtedly much to be learned, investigated, and created using devices, there are skills that devices cannot always teach and which children must acquire. 


Play enhances executive function and mood regulation.

Children must acquire and practise executive function, emotional control, and general physical skills as they develop. The best method for children to acquire these abilities is through play, which is why we say that play is a child's work. As devices become more pervasive and as many children become more scheduled with lessons and organised activities, it can be easy to forget to schedule time for device-free play.

I also believe that parents and children are forgetting how to play. Parents used to bring toys for their children to play with while they waited to see me, but now they simply give them their phones. Devices are so pervasive and convenient that it can be difficult to put them down and find something else to do.

Play is necessary for optimal growth.
The Centre on the Developing Child at Harvard University has devised excellent handouts for parents on age-appropriate games and activities to support their child's development. I especially appreciate those that involve the parent as well, as this not only benefits the infant but also your relationship.

Fantastic activities for younger children, ages 4 to 7
In the first three years of life, the purpose of play is to literally develop brain connections and fundamental abilities. As children mature, play provides them with opportunities to ponder, be creative, cooperate with others, and use their bodies.
Here are some suggestions for children ages 4 to 7 
Freeze Dance, Red Light, Green Light, Simon Says, and Duck, Duck, Goose are all active activities that reinforce self-control and cooperation in children.

I Spy, Bingo (or Opposites Bingo, where families create their own picture boards and children must match the opposite of what is said), and other matching games are excellent for enhancing memory and cognitive abilities.
Try starting a story and inviting others to contribute to it to see what plot twists arise! It is a fantastic method to foster creativity. You can do the same thing with a drawing: begin with something simple, such as a house or a boat, and then embellish it while narrating.
Excellent games for elder children: ages 8 through 12
The 8 to 12-year-olds (note: automatic download) are able to perform more complex tasks, such as:
Together, they complete jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, or other puzzles.
Participating in memory- and planning-based games such as chess, battleship, go, and clue
Playing a sport together — play basketball, skate, practise yoga, or go for a stroll— Being physically active together is not only beneficial for your health, but it also sets a positive example for the rest of your lives.

Learn a musical instrument together!
Making objects. Teach them to cook, construct, weave, crochet, and cultivate a garden. This, too, is playable.
Opportunities to engage also benefit teens.
As children mature into adolescents (automatic download), they desire more independence and time with peers. Depending on a person's inclinations, there are a variety of play opportunities. Sports, cooking, music, theatre, and even video games (in moderation) can foster creativity, life skills, and enjoyment.
Visit the website of the Harvard Centre on the Developing Child for more information on how parents can construct and encourage vital life skills in their children.

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