Why is PLAY important?
We all know that play is an essential part of a child's upbringing. We understand it is the way they learn, and we appreciate the ingenious way they explore and satisfy their need for investigating and challenging themselves and the world. At the same time we can easily become controlling parents who make everything easier for them, rather than letting them discover, develop and learn at the pace that suits them. We could be interfering. We of course have to keep them safe, but remember to let them play freely without setting them goals. There is a saying: "The way a child wants to play is often very different from the way his parents want him to. The child, however, knows best."
They are exploring something they need to do at that point in time time, enabling them to create that particular stepping stone to facilitate another stage in their development.
As an example we have a newborn baby who we nurture - how do we do that best? We feed the baby, we make sure they are clean and that they sleep, and we socially interact with them (very important!) As they start developing further do we help them to walk before they can crawl? Or do we leave them to do it their way? Children are no doubt reaching their milestones sooner nowadays than 100 years ago, why is that? Are we more intelligent? Should we interfere with that child's development? Should we let them do it their way? Should we hold them back? We let them do it their way! Children instinctively know the pace they need to learn at, and will sometimes go back and revisit a step they did not ‘master' earlier if they need to.
Eg. Your child knows that their mum is expecting a baby, and they now want to become a baby themselves again to reenact and re-understand that relationship. Through this process you might find that your toddler becomes a second Mum to the new baby. Stopping them from re-exploring the Mum-Baby dynamic could prevent this next phase of their growth.
It is important to recognise that various stages in a child’s development leads to something else. Coach them. Guide them.
Play, by definition, is: 'Engaging in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.' This allows for the human being to gain knowledge from the attempts of trying, and therefore learning how to approach this activity next time. This applies to physical, social, cognitive and emotional development.
Play is often defined as an activity done for its own sake characterised by; means rather than ends (the process is more important than any end point or goal) , flexibility (objects are put in new combinations or roles are acted out in new ways), and positive effect (children often smile, laugh, and say they enjoy it). How does PLAY play a part in an adult's life? As human beings play continues to be an essential part of our lives. We never stop growing! We continue to evolve! We want to live a happy life! It allows for happy moments while being ‘safe' because there are no expectations from the pursuit of play. It is a window of opportunity for exploring without a set goal. It is where we can find space to further evolve, grow and live.
We need to play. How do we play as an adult?
Learning a language
Playing an instrument
Set aside time once a week to play, preferably with plenty of time. What will it be? Where will it be? Who will you be with? Will you be on your own? Just be free to play. Remember that we are not talking about an end product, but a process. HAVE FUN!