The Importance of Playing in Childhood
“Throughout the world children play, and this activity is such an important part of their lives that one is inclined to see it as the raison d’être of childhood. And indeed, play is vital; it conditions the harmonious physical, intellectual and affective development of a child. A child who does not play is a sick child. A child who is prevented from playing will fall ill, physically and mentally.” United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
It is time to turn off our electronics and nourish ourselves with the benefits of playing:
- Structure their “I”. This is a vitally important activity at an early age to create and mold their personality. Your little one is going to pick up attitudes and ways of interacting with their environment that allow them to discover their own interests and likes, generating their self-image and self-esteem.
- Little explorer. Allow them to get to know the world around them and adapt to it, manipulate it, learn the relationship between trial and error, plan their action strategies, and respect the rules, among other things.
- Channel of expression: Through play they act and realize their wants, experiment with fears, frustrations, joys, and defeats making this a fantastic way to develop negative and positive emotions and helping to build a good emotional balance.
- “What if…”. Thanks to their endless imagination, children have the capacity to create an infinite amount of different parallel worlds, and each one with different roles for them to try and exercise for their adult life.
- Be in shape. Running, jumping, sitting down, standing up, and manipulating objects are actions that children do without even thinking while playing. This contributes great benefits to the development of psychomotor coordination, balance, gross and fine motor skills, and for overall health in general.
- Autonomy. The child becomes the boss and protagonist offering them the opportunity to create their own play space, establish their own particular rules, and move away from the directions set by their parents.
- Mental training. The inherent ability of a child to absorb information promotes attention and concentration training while playing.
- Social agent. Playful activities become an ideal tool to interact with other children, to establish new relationships and to allow for the development of language and communication habits.
Parents should remember that for playing:
- It is important to have a secure environment that is relaxed and comfortable to play in.
- Provide adequate toys according to their developmental level.
- Accompany them in playful activities, enriching and participating with them, without leading, respecting their preferences, and helping them solve problems that arise but always remembering that the child should be the one to take the lead.
- Take advantage of the opportunity provided when playing to educate them about values such as sharing, tolerance, having patience, and learning to win and lose.