Making the Most of Play Time with Your Child
It’s time to play! In the field of child development these days, an increasing focus is being placed on how the activities that babies and children engage in when not learning affect their development — namely, play time. Play aids in the nurturing imagination, aiding concentration and helping to develop social skills, preparing children not just for school but also for life. It is imperative for physical and mental development.
Play can generally be divided into structured and unstructured. Read on to find out more about the benefits of each, and how you should be encouraging your child’s development through play.
As the name suggests, structured plays refers to play where your play occurs at a fixed time and location, with a deliberately arranged activity for them often led by an adult. This can be anything from reading a bedside story to piano or soccer lessons, and the goal for the activity is usually quite clear. It can also include games like jigsaw puzzles and board games. Structured play is great for instilling your children with a sense of discipline and responsibility, giving them a specific goal to work towards while also helping them to develop an idea of what routine is like. The trick with structured play is to make sure that your children are having a good time and enjoying themselves. If they are bored by the activity, you may quickly find that they disengage and don’t end up actually gaining any meaningful skills and development out of the activity.
Otherwise known as free play, unstructured play refers to activities that are not coordinated and planned in advance. It is essential for nurturing the creativity of your children, by not imposing any restrictions on their imagination. Examples of free play include drawing, writing stories, inventing games, playing with toys and dolls or even something as simple as running around a playground or park. Imagination is truly the limit when it comes to free play, and it also aids in the development of a child’s resourcefulness and flexible thinking by encouraging them to use the space around them to do as they please. It is a fantastic way for parents to nurture the independent spirit of their children, but that doesn’t mean that parents shouldn’t continue to maintain a watchful eye over their children — particularly while playing outdoors.