There’s a lot of talk before and during summer about how students need to keep reading and experiencing educational activities. We certainly agree that this is important, but something equally important for children is play. Play helps children grow, develop, and learn in a way that is only possible through playing. So while you should encourage children to read and learn, you should also let them play and have fun this summer as well.
Play helps children build confidence and creativity. Through play, children learn new social skills and about the environment. Play also helps to develop physical skills, whether these are fine motor skills or simply physical activity. It gives children choice and the ability to be spontaneous, which gives them some of that control each child needs.
Creative play in particular can help young, and even older children, develop. Playing house improves social skills, life skills, and imagination. Playing games that involve stores or restaurants can help with math and reading skills, and even artistic skills. Creating these play scenarios aren’t reserved only for young children. Think about popular games you may see with college aged individuals, such as humans versus zombies. In this game some players are selected to play as zombies, and the humans must run and shoot the zombies with Nerf guns, surviving until the end of the round. This develops hand-eye coordination, strategy, and social skills. These types of pretend games can develop skills all through an individual’s life.
Play is also a great way to keep children healthy. While some play is in the form of video games and board games, a lot of play, especially in summer, is in the form of outdoor games. Think about popular summer activities. Many children go swimming and bike riding. They go out to play sports, or engage in games such as freeze tag and hide and seek. Children stay active and social this way. While it’s great to see a child reading every day, it’s also important that they socialize and stay active.
But play doesn’t only have to be unstructured. Structured play, which develop skills overtly, are still often fun for children. Dance or drama classes, music lessons, and training on sport teams are still “play”, they are just more overt with the skills they help children develop. Board games and video games develop skills as well, so don’t ban all indoor activity from a child’s summer vacation.
Unfortunately, in an effort to keep children learning and developing, free play is sometimes being taken away from children which actually does more harm than good. This doesn’t work for a number of reasons. Forcing children to learn and study with very little play is an easy way to create burnout. Play still develops skills while reducing stress. Children still need to be children, without being saddled with too many adult responsibilities. Like just about everything in life, moderation is key. Not allowing for play can create high levels of anxiety, so just be careful when scheduling activities.
If you’re looking for items to help your children play, we have tons on our website. Our active play section includes items that can be used for physical activity, such as balance beans and potato sacks. Our creative play section has tons of items including items for dress up, blocks, play food, and more.
So, let your children have some fun this summer! It will actually do a lot more good than you probably imagined.