Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Importance of Play

Adults who watch children at play think of it as having fun, goofing off or getting rid of extra energy. Yet play is actually how children learn and is essential to their healthy cognitive, social and physical development.

Play stimulates every aspect of a child’s development. Motor skills such as walking, kicking, or skipping are strengthened by sliding and running, by jumping rope, or playing ball. Children develop their fine motor skills and hand eye coordination with art work such as finger painting and coloring.

They build their thinking skills with games that require strategy and planning to reach a goal, making choices, or solving problems such as board games, puzzles, and models. Even making mud pies teaches children about measuring and mixing.

Playing with other children also helps youngsters develop social and interpersonal skills as they take turns, share their toys, and work as a team. Plus, they have the added benefit of the sheer joy of being with a friend. Play helps children develop confidence as they learn new things. What parent can forget a child’s look of pride as he or she finally masters a task?

Playing with your child can also build your relationship as you both enjoy each other’s company and have fun together. As adults, we often forget that we, too, still have permission to play. Play is what childhood is all about, so give children reasonable freedom to explore, provide interesting play things and play together often. So go ahead, get that Cootie game out, put your skates on, or play ball with your kids today.

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