Now this new year’s resolution should be easiest of all to keep because it’s child’s play, that is making sure kids have time each day for play activities. As adults, we sometimes forget how tremendously important it is for children to just play. It’s easy to get busy, but play is so very important the United Nations High Commission has included the right to play as one of the Universal Rights of the Child.
Why is play so vital for children? Children learn thru play. They will use practically anything to play with and their actions will often be doing the same thing over and over, but this is play. Empty boxes can be as much fun as expensive toys, sweeping the floor as exciting as looking for pirate treasure. As they play, children learn, figure out, explore, and discover. Play is often very hard work as children are vigorously involved, both physically and mentally. They are developing their understanding of the world outside and themselves inside.
At this age, children are developing at an intense rate. The years before the age of 5 are the most sensitive time for learning. This means that home is really children’s first school and parents and caregivers are the first teachers. Making sure that children have time each day to play is a priority. Time to play is not necessarily time with games and toys or require us to play with children. Kids can play by themselves as well as with others. Nor is it organized activities or being entertained. Time to play could be building a tower with blocks, or taking all the socks out of the drawer. It might be putting a puzzle together or throwing rocks in a puddle. Play can happen at the kitchen sink as well as in a playroom. It can be delightful to watch or give us gray hairs!
In the words of Fred Rogers, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” Could there be a better new year’s resolution than time to play?