Play is integral to the growth of our children. As our children move between the offline and online worlds, it is important that parents encourage and support the opportunities for positive play in our children.
Why encourage ‘Play’?
In the realm of education, one name stands out for recognising the unique educational needs of children long before anyone else: Friedrich Fröbel, a German educator. He was in fact the first to realise that significant brain development occurs before the age of three years. Fröbel not only pioneered the education of children under seven, but he also understood the crucial role of play in teaching children how to learn, observe, reason, and create.
By forming the very first kindergarten, he introduced the idea of providing a supportive environment for children to interact and learn with their peers and educators through play. Fröbel's ground-breaking insights shed light on the myriad benefits that play offers to children. We now know that by engaging in play, children exercise their dexterity, creativity, imagination, and various forms of strength, including physical, cognitive, and emotional abilities.
Moreover, play holds a vital role in the development of social skills, problem-solving capabilities, negotiation tactics, and the art of compromise. Utilising play-based strategies is an engaging way to support children’s social and emotional development. Importantly, play serves as a valuable learning experience for children when they encounter disagreements or face failure. Such experiences provide opportunities to positively process difficult emotions and develop essential traits like self-awareness and emotional regulation.
Amanda Abel, Paediatric Psychologist with TotallyAwesome, The LEGO Group’s key Youth-first Partner in APAC, says through playful interactions, children cultivate their cognitive processing abilities, strengthening their mental faculties. It is not just the cognitive aspects of development that play supports. In terms of physical skills, play contributes to the fortification of strength, balance, and spatial awareness among children. Engaging in physical activities during playtime promotes a healthy and active lifestyle, contributing to overall well-being. To keep engaging the kids in play every day, The LEGO® Group has introduced the Play Pledge giving all kids and their parents an opportunity to take the play pledge and strengthen their commitment to play.
Another unexpected benefit of play is for parents who are seeking improvements in their child's sleep. There is a strong connection between play and sleep. The mental and physical exertion of play promotes faster sleep onset and improved sleep maintenance. And to make it even better, improved sleep enhances imaginative play experiences – what a positive cycle. The advantages of play are not limited to children alone. When adults engage in child-like behaviour, they also reap the same benefits and serve as role models for their children, showcasing the importance of play in their daily lives.
How can parents encourage Play?
Seek out opportunities to support and encourage play in our children
Encourage’ boredom’ and the opportunity for free play
Think about how you can incorporate play into everyday activities
Take time to participate in your children’s play activities
Be creative and use toys to create play and educational opportunities for our children.
By acknowledging children's unique educational requirements and promoting the power of play, we can unlock their full potential. Let your child go out and play. By doing so, not only will your child benefit, but you will also reap the rewards.
While Amanda emphasises on keeping play at core for kids, The LEGO® Group also believes in making it mandatory and not optional. The group understand the importance it imparts in the lives of children and adults. In fact, The LEGO® Group’s ‘SMALL HANDS BIG DREAMS’ campaign, showcases a great opportunity for parents to make parenting playful while finding new ways to keep their children’s minds buzzing with ideas and their ‘small hands’ busy building big dreams.