Most parents, and even many educators, often dismiss the value of playtime in a child’s daily activities. This is a huge mistake, as children need that time to properly develop. Children play for a variety of reasons, and we tend to forget that these activities are preparation for skills they need as adults.
Children straddle a strange line between the “real world” they only get glimpses of and their own world. If that sounds strange, consider the list of tasks between adults and children in a household. From an adult’s perspective, children can seem to “have it easy” but in fact a child is always ready to learn new tasks, even those they aren’t capable of handling. From that perspective, play becomes a matter of creating scenarios where they can “think out” tasks, as well as their successful completion. What may seem to be cute and interesting “accomplishments”—when kids figure out how to drop 100 pounds of snow from a jungle gym or create an unseemly building out of Legos—are in fact a form of scenario development.
Play of course has a number of physical benefits, the most obvious being that they aren’t sedentary, which, done long term, will eventually harm physical development. It is extremely important that young bodies are being exercised as they grow; this will increase their successful development long term and ensure that they will grow into successful, well-rounded adolescents.
Play is a Stress Outlet For Kids
Children do not have stress outlets that adults are used to while their bodies are developing, and this is part of why a child that is “cooped up” in the house in winter will occasionally resort to odd runs here and there. It’s also a reason that children often engage in destructive activities. “Keeping a child busy” is not simply a convenience to the adults, a child’s psychological and physical development demands it. Children can often feel the stress that adults feel in the household, but the stress outlets often used by adults aren’t there to children or make little sense. To a child grasping the larger world around them, being able to find their own ways to sort through problems and expel energy are important to their development and understanding of the world around them.
What’s the Best Place to Play?
Studies continually show that the best place for children to play is outside, and for good reason. In the first place, children playing outside have more space. Secondly, there is less opportunity to accidentally damage something indoors. And finally, playing outside is good for children. The air is fresher and during the day the sun helps with the synthesis of vitamin D. Most importantly, outdoor play helps to counteract the possibility of obesity. Early outdoor activity is one of the best ways to make sure your kids are getting the exercise and psychological comfort that comes with play that they really need.