importance of play

How to Get in the Zone? Kids Need PLAY!

Kids need play. Each New Year we think of ways to improve health and well-being. Our kids need unstructured play for healthy bodies and bright need time to play

With days so busy we have to plan our time, we run the risk of over-scheduling our kids too. While it’s understandable we want to give them as many opportunities as possible, unstructured and imaginative play is one of the best kinds.

To better understand what’s meant by unstructured play, think back to your own experiences and times when you announced to your parents, “I’m bored!” When urged to go play, you may have complained some more but also suddenly discovered something exciting to do or to make. Like a blanket fort, or a space station. Perhaps, you used a toy or ordinary item in a new way you hadn’t thought of before. It was such great play, you may even be able to remember it. From the outside, it may not have looked like play, but there was no doubt it was from the child-expert’s perspective.

imaginative play

Somehow, this sort of play builds better brains. Researcher Serfio Pellis, states, “The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain….without play experience, those neurons aren’t changed.” (NPREd, Scientists Say Child’s Play Helps Build a Better Brain)

Unstructured may not be the best name, because it doesn’t stay that way. As kids play and interact with each other, they negotiate and create their own rules and structure. The play process wires pathways and connections in the brain. Learning to take turns, play fair, and not hurt, “prepares a young brain for life, love and even schoolwork.” We all live work and play in a social context.

kids need play

Blog posts and plays-of-the-day this month have all been about resolutions, ways to get in the zone. Absolutely, kids need play. It’s a sort of vitamin to take in a daily dose. By the way, adults need some too. How do you and your child get in the zone and play?

P.S. You can follow the 1 2 3 Kindergarten blog for ways to play and play inspirations. There’s an open invitation to come and play!

P.P.S. Check out Mrs. A’s course on Building Brain Power with Play.


Star Ideas for Play

How about some star ideas for play? To start the month, we made star wands and wished upon a star. Very recently, was the release of the new Star Wars movie. Stars can be the inspiration for some plays-of-the-day.children at play sign

When it comes to kids and play, the idea that gets the gold star is just that—PLAY. As parents and caregivers, making sure kids have the time and space to play is one of our most crucial responsibilities. So how do we do this? Here is a condensed version of a recent article giving 3 tips:

“1. Play doesn’t only happen with toys…Kids can get very creative at using real items as toys. This can cause parents and caregivers great problems such as hunting for keys that kids were using to play with. Or discovering the gas tank on the car is full because the kids used the water hose as they played in the yard when a parent was gardening. Sometimes, the problems can be very scary because kids really will play with anything. But most of the time, we can use things we have at home to extend time to play.

2. To a child, work can be play…Kids like to ‘help’ and be part of the action. Doing dishes can be play, and so can making meals and tidying up the yard. Adults need to be inspired by kids to make their work more playful.

3. Play can be counted in minutes. The hours in a day are already full but play fits into minutes. Taking advantage of minutes to add an element of play doesn’t need to tax your brain. Kids will find ways to play on their own. We can watch and listen to them as they play.

Play is so critical, it is enshrined as one of the rights of children by the United Nations High Commission. Kids learn basic life skills as they play. Play can happen anywhere, at any time, with anything, all alone or with others. It doesn’t require expensive toys or special programs because kids will play with sticks and boxes–and things that give our hearts a ot a luxuryBecause the early years are the most sensitive time for development, one of our responsibilities as parents and caregivers is to ensure kids have time and space to play. Isn’t it amazing that at one of the busiest times in our lives we can provide for children’s most critical needs thru play? 1 2 3 Go PLAY!”

Can you suggest and share some star ideas for play?

October Alphabet: P is for Children and PLAY

The most important activity for kids is play and one of our most crucial responsibilities is to ensure there is time and space for children and play.

importance of play for kidsWe can’t dismiss what kids do as ‘just play’ because play is how children train their brains. Through their play, kids are downloading the skills they need to coordinate body movements, communicate, interact with others, control their own feelings and emotions, and cope with the world around them. If we want kids to become independent and make good choices we need to let them direct their own play.

Just today, a friend and dad of a preschool boy shared this photo. At first, it looks like a line of pillows and cushions along the floor. But it is far more than that. It is a train. The little boy invited his dad to come aboard his train.

pillow-trainWhere did all that learning and creating come from? So many connections had to happen for this to take place. The little boy is consolidating what he knows about trains and recreating it. Trains have cars and these cars are all together in a line. There’s a front to the train and the back, The driver of the train is at the front. Trains carry people and things. When people get on trains, we say, “All aboard.” This sounds like the word board, but it means to hop on, something quite different.

None of this was suggested by the dad. In fact, he asked his son what was going on. Likely, this was more of an invitation to share and the little boy eagerly invited his dad to come and play. Using the pillows and cushions to be the train cars also show the developing ability to use one object to symbolize another. This is a key to reading. We use squiggly lines to symbolize real things. Kids need lots of play experiences over and over for the brain to develop this ability.

As parents and caregivers, we can get clues about what’s happening for a child from play. We may be able to support the play by asking things like, “Do I need a ticket? What could we use?” Or, we may ask the cost and use pretend money. Is there a way that you can give your child the time and space today to play?

(P.S. Can you come out and play? You can share your photos and stories about play on 123’s facebook page.)

10 New Year’s Resolutions with Young Children #6: PLAY

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 … Continue reading 10 New Year’s Resolutions with Young Children #6: PLAY

Extraordinary Learning Needs Ordinary Play

Series Part #11: Kids Going to Kindergarten Need to PLAY One of the most important ways that we can support children as they get ready to start kindergarten is let them have time and space to PLAY. Did you know that play is so essential to the healthy development of children that the United Nations … Continue reading Extraordinary Learning Needs Ordinary Play

Will Your Child Be A World Cup Soccer PLAYer?

World Cup Soccer has started and some children will dream of one day playing in the championships. Did you notice that key word: PLAY?  Whether it’s FIFA, the Olympics, the Stanley Cup or another great event and competition, the roots of Sport are PLAY. There will be some exciting soccer matches as these teams from … Continue reading Will Your Child Be A World Cup Soccer PLAYer?

Play Combines New and Old for Brain Connections

During play, children can combine something they already know in a new or different way to create new brain connections. Play is important for early learning and it can happen in the most surprising places. Yesterday afternoon, Little Sister went to a birthday party at a gymnastics facility. She enjoyed jumping on the giant air … Continue reading Play Combines New and Old for Brain Connections