Playtime is essential for a child’s development. It helps them engage with the world, foster social skills, boost brain power and increase confidence. But how a child plays is just as important as how much a child plays.
Encourage your child to get a healthy mix of cognitive and physical development in their playtime with these tips:
Play with Fewer Toys
Although it seems that kids today are expected to have an abundance of toys, too many toys can actually reduce the quality of play. In a study from the University of Toledo in Ohio, researchers found that having fewer toys can lead a child to focus and engage in more creative play, resulting in deeper cognitive development. With fewer distractions, kids will end up using their imaginations more, which contributes to their executive function.
And just think, fewer toys means less clutter and more savings!
Play with Movement
Research has consistently shown that children are getting less exercise than ever before and obesity is on the rise. Part of the reason for these issues is more screen time and the corresponding sedentary time. New guidelines published by the World Health Organization (WHO) specify that children ages 1 to 4 years old need to spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of types of physical activities per day.
Fortunately, this can easily be accomplished through playtime. Games such as tag, Simon Says and Duck-Duck-Goose all encourage exercise. Just remember that whatever game your child plays, the important thing is he or she is moving and staying active.
It’s no surprise that playing outside is good for kids. Playing outside affords children the opportunities to get exercise, absorb Vitamin D and strengthen their immune systems. Besides improving their physical health, kids who play outside enjoy sensory development through exposure to textures, sounds and smells. In fact, outdoor play is so important, pediatricians are beginning to prescribe it for kids.
Play with Others
Although it’s important for kids to play by themselves here and there, it’s also important for them to play with others. When kids play with other kids, they learn vital social and emotional skills. Through interaction, they learn to communicate, take turns and cooperate.
It’s also important for kids to play with their parents. Kids develop unique skills that only come from parent-child play. For example, parents offer more mature and varied play opportunities. In addition, this special one-on-one time also boosts oxytocin in both kids and parents as well as contributes to family bonding.
Of course, traditional activities that encourage academic success like reading and writing should also be incorporated when possible. The important takeaway is that quality play can be achieved through a variety of activities. These are just a few tips to help you ensure your kids have healthy, well-rounded playtimes.