Why Is Play So Important?

Why Is Play So Important?

Play brings you closer to your children; it helps them to become more independent; they are more able to work problems out; to develop their own concentration and imagination. Key skills needed for life and learning at school.

Check-Out How You Play

Get a friend, partner or relative to watch you playing with your child and to jot down a few notes.  Try to observe the following: Who decides what to play?  How long does it last?  Who is most interested?  How much enjoyment is there?  What good behavior is praised and encouraged?  Discuss what was observed and work out a plan from ideas within this article on how you can develop your play skills further.  Set yourself simple and achievable targets.  Involve your friends and family and check your progress weekly.  Make it FUN!  You could observe your friend playing with their child in exchange for them helping you. REMEMBER you are the experts on your own children so pool your knowledge and experience!  If you can’t get a friend or member of your family to help you can still make your own personal plan.

Ask Yourself

Do I enjoy playing with my child?  How often in an average week do I play and for how long?  What are the barriers that can get in the way and how can these be gradually removed?  What does my child think about play-times?

Five Key Play Skills

Creating Time

Try to plan ahead.  Identify 10-15 minutes per day when you can play with the least interruptions. Turn the television off and involve brothers and sisters.

Involving Your Child

Ask your child what they enjoy playing. Let them choose what they want to play. You would be surprised how many parents automatically decide how, what and when they are going to play. Children learn best and enjoy play more when they decide how they want to play and at what pace. Importantly their concentration, enjoyment levels and good behavior increases as a consequence! Hence there are strong “pay-offs” for both the child and parent.

Getting Down To Your Child’s Level

Preparing for play is important.  Make sure you are close to your child, have eye contact and show that you are interested e.g. if your child is playing on the floor, sit on the floor with them.

Describing What You See

Let your child pick a play activity and as your child is playing just concentrate on describing what you see in a very positive tone of voice e.g.  “you have picked up the red brick and are placing it on the blue brick”.  This skill will need a lot of practice as you will inevitably want to direct the play by saying such things as “I know lets put this brick on top of this other brick”.  Avoid asking questions and copy your child’s play.

Praising What You See

When you feel totally comfortable with describing what you see, try to begin to use descriptive praise i.e. “what a good girl for putting that red brick on the blue brick”. Be close when you praise, smile, get eye contact, use touches, hugs and strokes.  Be sincere and genuine and praise as soon as possible after the good behavior in order to encourage them to repeat it.  Your child needs to know that you are pleased in order for them to learn self-confidence and to explore further. They are learning to be co-operative rather than to be defiant.

By: Andy Gill

Republished with permission from Practical Parenting

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