Kids need to play, and there are many reasons why this should be an important part of their upbringing and regular schedule. Unfortunately, it may be true that kids of previous generations played more than today’s kids. There’s a number of reasons behind this, ranging anywhere from ambitious parents to security and safety concerns to higher expectations of kids knowing the value of stillness and being quiet. However, if you are a parent or a child care giver, you should understand the importance of play for kids, for the reasons outlined in the following paragraphs.
First, playtime is necessary simply to reduce kids stress levels. Adults, especially those who do not have children, might scoff at this idea, but even being a kid can be rough. Bodies are constantly growing and changing, kids have very little control over their environments, and schools are constantly teaching them new things and testing them on it. Throw in learning about the world at large, and you can see (or remember) that kids are actually working all the time. They need playtime in order to release the tension from all this.
Second, playtime is essential when it involves other kids. How much of a kid’s interaction with other kids is during formal or structured events, like sports or school? Kids need to develop social skills with both genders, and this can really only happen during unstructured playtime that involves other kids.
Third, playtime is a chance to teach kids about being responsible. When they have time to play with playground equipment, it’s a chance to show them how to be responsible and also the value of cleanliness after the playtime is over.
Fourth, younger kids need playtime more than anyone so they can exercise their imaginations and their brains. A lot of mental development occurs in playtime, as does physical coordination. A lack of playtime can actually stunt the growth of a child, even if some feel that time might be better spent learning something academically or practicing an instrument.
Fifth and finally, and perhaps the greatest reason of all, playtime is a chance for you to spend time with your kids. In many cases, they’ll play while you have work to do, personal or professional, but not all the time. A child’s time with his or her parent or parents is valuable, and they’re not children forever. A little playtime with your child is a bonding experience that benefits both of you, and also something you won’t have the chance to do forever, so make the most of their youth while it lasts.
Now you know five reasons behind the importance of play for kids. As more and more schools cut into their recess time, or eliminate it altogether, it’s critical that this lack of free time and unstructured play be balanced elsewhere. It’s up to parents and child care givers to make sure that the young ones they are responsible for have enough time to play and be kids while they’re still kids.