Why Play Time is So Important for Your Child

kids playing in a treeHere’s a question for you. What’s a good way for your child to de-stress, improve his health, build confidence and make friends? Give up? The answer is simple. He just needs to play each day.

By allowing your child to have even a small amount of play time in his schedule each day, he can accomplish each of the above mentioned perks. And the long-term benefits of play are cumulative.

The good news is that few children will balk at having play time. Play is the busy work of childhood and most kids can’t get enough. Here’s a list of some benefits your child can reap from embracing the business of play.

  • Having time to play allows your child to build his imagination and creativity. Kids begin developing their imagination as young as 2 or 3 years old. Imagination allows your child to be a superhero one day and a galloping horse the next. As imagination grows through play so does your child’s creativity. He might be building something with blocks and suddenly he’s seeing a fort or a castle. Give him a stack of cardboard boxes and he might create a train. There is no limit to the ideas your child can come up with if given half a chance. And exercising his imagination on a regular basis builds it as if it were a muscle being used each day.
  • Regular play time with peers helps your child develop social skills. A child who plays alone will have a good time and reap multiple benefits, however, playing with others adds the bonus of learning how to interact with other children. Sharing and compromising are skills that your child can learn by playing in a group. The more exposure your child has to playing with others the more accomplished he will become with these important life skills.
  • A good play session allows your child to have fun and feel good. Having fun can lead to gales of laughter, which in turn leads to the release of endorphins and a natural de-stressing process for your child. Laughing and playing allow your child to achieve a kind of balance in his life that will benefit him in the long term.
  • The physical benefits of play time can’t be understated. The American Heart Association recommends 60 minutes of physical activity for kids each day. Your child can meet this suggested guideline by playing organized sports or by playing hopscotch and jumping rope with the neighborhood kids. He’ll have a great time and you’ll have the knowledge that play time is increasing his well-being.

Obviously, even this partial list shows you just how important it is for your child to play daily. So just how can you help build regular play time into your child’s day?

You may have to get creative to carve a block of time out of your busy family schedule each day. The key here is in cutting non-essentials from your child’s day. An easy place to start is to limit screen time in your home. The minutes saved by this simple act will provide more than enough time for your child to build a play fort outside or to hula-hoop around the block.

As a parent it is up to you to help find those extra play time minutes in each day. It doesn’t matter how you decide to do it, just do it. You won’t regret making the effort to do so and the benefits of play time for your child are too important for you to pass up.

In closing today, I’d like to leave you with some wise quotes about the benefits of play.

  • “Play is the highest form of research.” Albert Einstein
  • “Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.” Abraham Maslow
  •  “Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” Kay Redfield Jamison
  • All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Proverb
  • “Those who play rarely become brittle in the face of stress or lose the healing capacity for humor.”  Stuart Brown, MD

I hope you can find a way to make play happen daily for your family. Have a great week!

Cathie

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