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The importance of playtime

I founded Insightful Families, in 2014 with the intention of guiding families through parenthood and childhood.

Through play, children develop the fundamentals needed to succeed in life.

mother and daughter playing

Photo credit: Blend Images KidStock/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

"Play is our brains' favorite way of learning." Diane Ackerman

What many people don’t realize is that, from the very beginning of our lives, we begin to learn, and how we do this is through play. Watch young children playing; yes, they are enjoying themselves, but take a closer look. When you do, you will find that there is more to the situation than meets the eye. Through play, children develop the fundamentals needed to succeed in life. As parents and professionals, it is crucial that we encourage children to engage in play. Imagination is something that develops early on in childhood.

Approaching play by using our imaginations is extremely beneficial. Pretend play consists of a child and/or adult using fantasy to set up scenarios, which involve different perspectives. This form of play could be conducted by yourself or with others. Many studies have revealed the advantages of make-believe play and the impact of its role in child development. Some long-term benefits of play include, but are not limited to:

  • Expanding social skills
  • Increasing language development
  • Building upon peer relationships
  • Teaching problem solving and coping skills
  • Enhancing self-expression
  • Improving frustration tolerance.

Incorporating more play into your child’s life is essential. It is also important to add some time to engage in pretend play with your children. There are many ways you can include more play into your lives. Offering a variety of objects and toys could encourage your child to engage in pretend play.

Believe it or not, some of the more complicated toys with lots of electronic buttons and noises do not enable a child to use his imagination. Props as simple as wood blocks, articles of clothing, dolls, animals and musical instruments are all good examples of things that will improve your children’s ability to use their imagination during play. Keeping it simple really goes a long way.

A great way of establishing a play routine in your house is to begin with dolls and animals. Set aside a half hour a few times a week to connect with your child. Start out with some simple scripts like: “Look at the baby, she is tired,” while wrapping a doll in a blanket or “The monkey wants to go to the zoo,” while holding a pretend monkey and moving it toward your child. As time progresses, your children will independently build their own play scripts and schemes.

Happy playing!

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