Play is a very crucial skill every child needs to develop properly. As simple as "play" sound some children just do not know their way around it due to underlying neurodevelopmental disorders which may be known or unknown to the parents of such a child.
I have put together a few points to help us see the importance of "PLAY" for your developing child.
1. Speech & Language Development.
Play opens the door of imagination and in the world of imagination, words exist. While playing they learn new words and how to use them. They utilise words they already know from their word bank and practice meaningful conversations even when they are playing alone.
2. Social Skills
In the world today everyone need social skills in order to adjust into the world around them and play is the right avenue for children to get equiped with the necessary skills needed for this to happen. While playing, children learn turn taking, sharing of toys, events and experiences and they also learn sportsmanship as well as other social behaviours needed to fit into the society they live in.
3. Role play and Modeling
During play time they imitate their peers, parents or any action and behaviours they may have noticed earlier or during play time. This is why it is important that you always set good examples for your children. Behaviours you want to see in your children are the behaviours or attitudes you should model.
Play affords your child the opportunity to try out new things and even create new ways of going about their daily activities.
5.Problem Solving Skills
Play will teach your child how to solve life's problems. Simple skills like opening a bottle, putting bricks or legos together and stacking plates or toys will help your child learn to try and fix things instead of ALWAYS asking for help. This is not to say it is wrong for kids to seek help when they need help.
6. Cause and Effect
Children learn the consequences of their actions and behaviours during play time.They learn the positive and negative outcomes of certain actions or behaviours.
For instance, they learn that if the blow air into the bubble wand they will get lots of bubbles in return and that the bubbles burst and disappears when popped. They also learn that touching spiky plants (during outdoor playtime) may hurt their fingers so from experience they avoid spiky plants.
7. Attention Span
Functional play helps improve a child's attention span and it will keep them in a place for some time. They develop and improve their eye-to-hand coordination during play time. Also some play activities will help improve your child's eye contact ability (especially for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder who have problems maintaining eye contact).
8. Gross and Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skill is the coordination of small muscles, in movements—usually involving the synchronisation of hands and fingers—with the eyes while Gross motor skills involve the larger muscles in the arms, legs and torso. Gross motor activities include walking, running, throwing, lifting, kicking, etc. These skills also relate to body awareness, reaction speed, balance and strength.
Play helps your child develop and improve on their motor skills, their muscles become stronger and better as they move around and manipulate objects.
Now that you know some of the benefits of "play" I hope you will allow your child play freely henceforth.
In fact, join him/her every now and then.
It is also important to add that you do not need all the toys in the world for you child to have a meaningful playtime.
You can let them play with simple and safe household items like cartons, spoons, cups, paper/carton dolls, plates, sand, peoples, rocks, leaves, flowers etc. So stop guilt tripping yourself because you can't afford expensive toys. Make do with what you have.
Kenneth R. Ginsburg in his publication titled " The Importance of Play in Promoting
Healthy Child Development and
Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bond" (2007) in the American Academy of Pediatric journal concluded that
"Play is a cherished part of childhood that offers childrenimportant developmental benefits and parents the opportunity to fully engage with their children. However,multiple forces are interacting to effectively reducemany children’s ability to reap the benefits of play. As we strive to create the optimal developmental milieu forchildren, it remains imperative that play be includedalong with academic and social-enrichment opportunities and that safe environments be made available to all children".