It may seem too good to be true, but this is one homework assignment not to take lightly:
Experts agree it’s important to carve out time for playing (yes, playing!) with your kids every day.
According to recommendations release by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2018, play teaches young children how to collaborate, negotiate, resolve conflicts, advocate for themselves and so much more. What’s more, the research cited studies that found children’s stress levels go down when they get one-on-one playtime with adults.
"I think we're continuously learning that play is really essential for kids - it's not just an afterthought or an accessory," Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor in the psychology department at Temple University, told AAP News of the results from the 2018 study.
And it’s never too early to begin. In fact, the “play” that happens during the first three months of life lays a critical foundation for all the fun to come. Only, to parents, it may not be as recognizable: When you are “responding” to your child or describing the world around them, they are eagerly soaking this in and their little brains are benefiting, too, according to Harvard researchers.
As they grow, the games can become more advanced - and there’s nothing quite like witnessing their imaginations flourish or their sharing skills develop.
Development also provides opportunities for more types of play:
Social play: Interactions with other kids or adults, which helps them navigate social environments and react to unexpected prompts.
Independent play: Self-guided fun and discovery where they follow their imaginations and problem-solving skills evolve.
Guided play: Working with a prompt, often from an adult, such as, “Let’s act out a story about a walk through the woods. Where should we start?”
Through a combination of varied play, children have their best opportunities to enjoy all the benefits that go along with playing. And that’s no small thing when you consider all the perks that go along with play - from intellectual to social to emotional and physical development.
As parents, it’s our job to give children the space, empowerment and resources to play, which will reward you all for years to come.