Within the study of childhood development it is common knowledge that ‘play’ performs a vital role in allowing our children to learn everything they can about the world and establish a grounding for the life they are about to set out on. Therefore this part of growing up is very important and will play a big part in the development process as they grow into toddlers, teenagers, young adults and beyond.
The great thing about ‘play’ is that it provides freedom for the child to get to know what’s going on around them in a safe environment. It’s spontaneous and often acts as a ‘trial and error’ way of learning about the brave new world into which they have entered. So how do you go about getting the most out of these situations and encouraging your kids to play in the right way?
Here are some excellent ideas and tips.
Get Involved Too –
Although children of all ages are quite happy to explore the world around them on their own; they are likely to get so much more out of the process if you are there to explore with them. Make a point of getting involved with your child’s ‘play’ at least once a week so that you can be there to make all of the new discoveries with them. You can then answer any questions that they might have and be there to encourage some interactivity out of them too.
You can also take steps to reinforce the type of behaviour that you expect from them so that they don’t start to develop any bad habits; after all, it’s a lot easier to lay down the foundations for positive development at this early stage.
Give Them Their Own Space –
Although you will have made time to play with them regularly; it is just as important that they have their own space in which they can roam free without coming to any harm. Kids can be very aware of their parents if they are in the room and, depending on how shy or extraverted they are, this could have an effect on the way they conduct themselves in their surroundings. The best thing to do is create an area of the home that you know they will be safe in and then you can have the peace of mind that there aren’t going to be any nasty accidents if you leave them alone for an extended period of time.
This could be a specially designed playroom or just an area of the living room that you have safety-proofed, but as long as you can leave them to it for a bit you may see some excellent development.
Give Them An Outlet –
Children have so much energy and because of this they want to play all the time. Often, though, this isn’t possible as you need them with you to get things done or you need them to stay within your sight and out of trouble. Therefore it is a great idea to provide them with an outlet for their energy and a focus for their playful activity. Although ‘play’ is spontaneous by definition there is nothing wrong with giving it some boundaries so that your child gets a regular chance to cut loose a bit and really enjoy themselves.
By enrolling them in a sports club or after-school activity they will always have this time to play even if they don’t get much chance anywhere else. Children’s football coaching, such as this , could be a great place to start because not only does it provide a useful focus for your child’s ‘play’, it also teaches them some valuable life skills whilst getting them used to the idea of regular physical activity.
Try Not To Segregate Them From Their Peers –
Although you don’t want your children to always get their own way, especially when the situation dictates that they really can’t, it is important that they get plenty of time to play with people of the same age. Children learn things off one another at this stage and unless they are regularly interacting with kids who are at a similar stage in their development; they could find themselves left behind. During this phase they also learn how to respond to other people’s feelings, how to share and how to conduct themselves appropriately in a group environment.
Again, sports classes are great here because they are often conducted in specific age groups and will also put your child amongst other kids with similar interests.
Chris Mayhew has fond memories of playtime from when he was younger and knows that this was an important part of growing up. He would encourage any parent to enhance their child's play by enrolling them in great activity classes such as the ones that Sport4kids run.