Play is instrumental in helping children learn and understand the world around them. It’s as essential to their development as eating healthy and reading bedtime stories. Not only can kids improve their gross and fine motor skills simply by exploring their neighbourhood playground, but they can also learn social-emotional skills like sharing and expanding their vocabulary.
Learning through play is one of the best and most immersive ways a child can learn. Not to mention, the most fun! These days, it can feel nearly impossible to find the time to play outdoors. Although working playtime into our busy schedules can be challenging, here are 5 important reasons why you should make sure your child is given a chance to play each day. The lessons they learn on the playground stay with them for a lifetime and making the time to get outside will be well worth it!
All that running, climbing, jumping, and falling? That helps children build muscle and stamina. Children need to hone their reflexes and balance when they’re young to hit critical developmental milestones, and play is a fun way to expand and build upon those skills.
Exercise is also excellent for their overall health and positively impacts a child’s mood. Exercise increases endorphins, which means exercise makes our kids happy! Who doesn’t want happier kids? Besides the mental health benefits, exercise has also been linked to learning improvements and increased brain function.
Learning how to express yourself and communicate effectively with others is a lifelong journey for most, but it’s a skill we can nurture in children early on to give them a head start. Through experiences with other children, they learn to manage complex emotions like anger, jealousy, sadness, and disappointment. Other basic social skills like how to share, cooperate, and empathize with others can be learned while playing as well.
Giving children the time and space to play encourages them to use their imagination and harness the power of their creativity. As children become more dependent on their devices, facilitating playtime outdoors is becoming more and more crucial to their health and well-being. If you’re stuck inside on a rainy day, get back to the basics! Build a fort with couch cushions, sheets, and blankets, or make a spaceship out of cardboard boxes. While it may sound like an ancient idea, it can do wonders for the imagination.
Executive functioning refers to skills related to planning, prioritizing, troubleshooting, negotiating, and multitasking. These skills are best learned in unstructured scenarios that push kids to solve problems, navigate conflict, and make decisions without guidance from adults.
Children spend most of their day listening to and taking directions from teachers, parents, and older family members. When they play, they can become leaders and find the freedom to make decisions independently. This grows their sense of autonomy and helps encourage a sense of confidence within themselves.
We hope that this blog post encourages you to provide more opportunities for your child to play and explore. Besides, adults can benefit from going outdoors and playing, too! Next time your child wants to head to the playground, why not go outside with them, get some sunshine, and reap the benefits of letting yourself play like a kid again?