Play is more than just a way of having fun. It is a serious subject when it comes to a child’s growth and development. It contributes to the emotional, physical, social, and cognitive well-being of children and adolescents. Play is also the most natural way children interact with the world around them, learn, and develop new intellectual, physical, and emotional skills.
Despite the advantages of free play for children, playtime has been drastically reduced for some children. A recent study confirms that about 75% of children below 12 years are not obtaining enough active play. But why is play important for children’s health and development? Read on for more insights.
Play; what is it?
Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development defines play as any pleasurable, voluntary, and spontaneous activity that provides enjoyment and entertainment to children. It involves a combination of objects, bodies, and relationships. Play is categorized into:
- Physical or Locomotor play – Involves activities that require physical movement to let children use their energy. Physical play can be done both indoors and outdoors, and it gives children a chance to develop motor skills, socialize, and build emotional intelligence.
- Object play – Involves the use of toys and other objects and can help build sensory-motor skills in children at an early age.
- Social or Pretend play – These are simple play activities that help encourage creativity and boost language and communication skills.
- Outdoor play – This type of play engages all of a child’s five senses to help promote special awareness and balance.
Why is Play Important?
Playing is important to both children and parents or caregivers as it encourages fun and enjoyment. Other reasons why play is good for children include:
1.) It Allows them to Discover their Senses
Active free play stimulates a child’s senses of sight, touch, hearing, smell, movement, and balance. Sensory play enables children to process what they can experience via their senses, which helps them understand their surroundings.
2.) It Can Decrease their Risk of Being Short-sighted
Play is crucial in developing and strengthening your child’s visual health. Letting your child play outdoors can help reduce their risk of developing short-sightedness or myopia.
3.) It Enables Children to Acquire Spatial Awareness
A child starts developing spatial awareness as soon as they are born. Sensory play activities that can help develop spatial awareness include rocking your baby, speaking to your baby, or placing your baby on their tummy. In addition, letting your child play with objects of different shapes, weights, textures, and sizes can help them develop spatial awareness.
4.) It Helps Children Maintain a Healthy Weight
Regular physical play can help children maintain a healthy weight and build muscles and bones. Active free play activities like swimming, riding a bike, or climbing a tree can get children moving and develop language and communication skills.
5.) It Helps them Develop Emotionally
Free play has a crucial role in a child’s emotional growth. Playing can help support various aspects of emotional health, including building self-confidence, releasing negative emotions, experimenting with various emotions, and controlling them.
6.) It Promotes Gross and Fine Motor Skills Development
Children develop their own gross and fine motor skills as they grow up. These skills are achieved through various play activities such as picking up blocks, throwing objects, rolling over, and painting.
7.) It Lets Children Experiment with Risky Behaviors Safely
While risky play should be closely monitored, it’s sometimes useful for children as it helps them learn their boundaries. Most physical play activities allow little ones to test risky behaviors such as jumping off objects, climbing high in objects, and swinging.
Contact Bayless Integrated Healthcare for a Check-Up
Have questions on your child’s developmental skills or how you can better foster your child’s development? Schedule an appointment for your child at Bayless Integrated Healthcare today!