It’s finally summer! School is out and your children are home. Does that leave you looking for ways to get them outside, keep them active, or peel them away from the TV? The following article written by Cindie Silmon, LCMFT – a Rainbows’ Mental Health Specialist – provides valuable information on the importance of play and outlines some great ideas to engage your children in more activity. Keep reading…
Play is a very important part of a child’s learning and development. Technology has impacted the way children play. Many children are exposed to iPads, gaming systems, and television; and they spend a majority of their time utilizing these devices.
With the increased use of electronics children are less engaged in exploratory, imaginative play. However, this type of play is important for a child’s healthy development. Play allows children to practice social skills, use their imagination and make sense of their environment. Through play children also increase problem solving skills, language development, and gross and fine motor skills.
Helpful ideas to increase your child’s play:
· Limit the use of electronic devices. According to the CDC, children between the ages of 2-5 should be limited to 1-2 hours of screen time each day. Children under 2 should have more limited (or no) screen time.
· Provide children with toys that allow them to use their imagination such as blocks, costumes, pots and pans. Even empty toilet paper rolls can be made into something fun if you use your imagination!
· Allow children to explore using their senses such as sand and water play and increase outdoor time. Children need to explore their environment to optimize their learning.
· Spend time in your child’s world by allowing them to lead the direction of play. This time will increase their confidence and increase family connection.
Good luck in your journey to increase your child’s exploratory play and don’t forget to have fun!
Ideas adapted from Early Childhood News (Back to Basics: Play in Early Childhood by Jill Englebright) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention Websites
Additional Play Ideas
· Take a nature walk and collect fallen leaves, rocks, pinecones, and fathers.
· Create a family art project
· Make puppets out of paper sacks or socks and have a puppet show
· Put a sheet over a table to create a castle or campsite
· Build a town out of blocks or boxes
· Become a vet and care for a sick stuffed animal
· Have a pretend tea or birthday party with dolls
· Create something with Play-doh or clay
· Allow your child to make up a story and you can write the words on the paper and have them draw the pictures
· Use funnels, measuring cups, and jars for water play. Add ice or food coloring to engage the senses!