According to the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, play is considered a basic right for every child. Studies show that children who are exposed to outdoor play have enhanced motor skills, coordination and capacity to focus.
It has been scientifically proven that early physical or sensory experiences are vital for proper brain development. By year two, a baby experiences an increase in connections of the brain cells, forming the base for motor control.
A child’s physical and motor growth progresses from birth to 12 years. Children begin with big motor skills like walking and graduate to fine skills like writing using a pencil. During this stage, a baby’s brain is like a sponge – absorbing knowledge through exploration.
PLAY HAS MANY REWARDS
Play, therefore, is a critical part of a child’s development. The following are some of the benefits of play to children:
Imagination: Play stimulates creativity and imagination, especially when children are exposed to nature.
Socially: Children learn to share and take turns while interacting with their peers. They also learn how to work out their brains and be assertive.
Physically: Play contributes to physical fitness and healthy bodies. This keeps illnesses and obesity at bay. Through games such as building blocks, children master balance as well as hand and eye coordination.
Mentally: As children use their five senses to explore their environment, they learn from cause and effect, like dropping and picking a toy from the floor. This leads to development of a healthy brain, thus enhancing academic performance.
Emotionally: Children who play with their parents are likely to be confident achieving adults. Play develops a child’s self-esteem and independence.
Verbally: Play aids in language development. Children learn how to communicate with their peers or in a story-telling session.
Parental: Play provides a great avenue for parents to bond with their children. Engage your child in physical games like soccer, hide and seek, skipping or dancing to music. This keeps them active and sets an example for them to follow.
Adaptability: Play is a stress reliever as it alleviates irritability. It has a way of calming nerves, enabling children to adjust to difficult situations like sitting for exams.
Balance: Play is very crucial in school as it gives children time to unwind. Playing at school enables children to develop wholly instead of just developing mentally.
WHAT HINDERS CHILDREN FROM PLAYING?
Various factors are hindrances to children’s play. They include:
Technology: Play has now been substituted with gadgets and toys that see many children caged at home. Others turn to passive activities like cartoons or video games that are usually addictive.
School work: Today’s children have hectic schedules with loads of homework and extra-curricular activities, such as piano lessons, to attend to. This makes free play hard to come by. Similarly, a lot of emphasis has been put on achievement of good academic grades. As a result, most children have to take extra tuition classes to attain high academic standards, thus reducing the playtime.
Fatigue: With numerous school demands, children get home too tired to engage in any form of play. And during their free time, they would rather sleep or engage in less vigorous activities like playing video games.
Busy parents: Many parents spend extra hours at work and arrive home late, exhausted and incapable of engaging in any play with their children.
Insecurity: Today’s children seldom roam around playing due to security concerns, such as kidnapping or sexual molestation. They play under supervision in secured play grounds, which limits free play.