Play… sure we’ve all done it. Yet, have we ever thought about how important and vital it is to a child’s growth? Don’t worry… most people don’t think of it that way.
Yet, experts all agree that early childhood play is integral to development. This is free child directed play… not passive play through tv or video games. Through play a child learns about the world around him by touching, feeling, and yes… sometimes even tasting. Each of their senses are involved in this learning, and each sense adds a dimension to their learning.
A child can also learn by mimicking adult behavior. Why do little girls like dollies and play kitchens? Why do little boys like to build things? Through their play, they are “practicing” future behavior. Though this aspect of learning really makes it tough for parents!
Children also learn how to interact through play. They learn how to work out difficulties, how to share, and how to accept one another. Simply put, they learn social skills while they are playing with others.
Free play enables children to develop their imagination. As a teacher, I could almost always tell which children sat in front of the television when they were at home. Across the board, children who were not allowed much television, had a greater imagination.
Don’t schedule your family to death, make sure that you have plenty of down time to give your children opportunity for free unstructured play time.