Some of the best memories I have with my kids are the times we played together. Whether it was going to the park, making mud pies, or doing a craft, those moments where I allowed myself to enter the magical world of play will always be special. Although I knew it was important for my kids to play, I didn’t realize at the time just how much it contributed to their overall development. Who knew that when my son was busy jumping in puddles and covered in mud, he was actually learning something? Children learn through play – it allows them to explore their world and bring meaning to it.
Some of the benefits of play include:
- Nurturing children’s creativity and problem-solving abilities
- Stimulating the healthy development of children’s brains
- Building children’s strength, flexibility and coordination
- Allowing children to acquire competence and skills that help build self esteem
- Providing the opportunity to learn essential social skills; to take turns, to share and co-operate
- Helping children to develop friendships with their peers
As busy parents, we can’t always find the time to play with our kids, but we can support their play by providing them with the space, time, and ‘tools’ to play. My kids were happiest when they had time for free play, where they could decide what to play and how to play it. I also found they didn’t need expensive toys to keep them busy. They would spend hours playing ‘dress up’ using the old clothes I had set up for them, or making forts out of boxes and blankets. Inviting their friends over was also a great way to keep them busy.
My children are now in their teens, and their play looks a lot different now than when they were little. But, on occasion, we will find the time to play a game or throw around the ball. After all these years, I find play is still a great way to connect with my kids.
About this guest blogger:
Maureen Harris is a public health nurse who has worked in a variety of nursing settings for over 20 years, including acute care, community and teaching. For the past nine years she has worked on the preschool team at Halton Region. She is an accredited Triple P and Nobody’s Perfect facilitator, and enjoys working with families in her community. She is a mother of three children.
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For more tips and ideas about your child’s play or to share your experience, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly: