One of the most common things parents hear is how important playtime is for children. Along with other issues such as the environment and being an honest citizen, it is probably the thing that parents hear most about when it comes to things aimed in their specific direction.
Like most messages that come from on-high, however, the instruction can be a little wishy-washy, to say the least. We all know that playtime is good for our kids, but what makes it so important, and how can we add to this ourselves?
What Kids Want
Many people struggle with identifying what kids want against what they, as parents, want them to do and enjoy. Ask a parent what their child enjoys and finds value in, then ask the child themselves, and you would probably get two totally differing views.
Child’s answer ”I like to be active, running around, and spending time with my family.”
Parent’s answer ”They like sitting in front of the television or playing quietly by themselves.”
While those differences seem pretty innocuous, the truth is that they are quite a damning indictment of how misguided some parents are. Children want to be active, and spend time with loved ones. Parents mistakenly believe that by relying on the familiar digital babysitter in the television or games console that they are making their children happy.
What needs to change, and how can parents keep their children active, and their playtime enriched.
When buying toys, parents should look for things that are very open-ended. Examples of open-ended toys would be a doll, an action figure, or a construction set. Toys that can be played with time and again, reinvented, and that your child never gets bored of.
Against something such as a board game, these sorts of toys will allow much more imagination and creativity to come into play. Crucially, they will allow parents to get involved more with their kids, to challenge them to come up with a new idea for a building, or to tell a story about their doll, and what they have done today.
This is obviously a huge part of child development, especially when the doom and gloom news outlets are telling us about how common child obesity is these days. Children will tell you themselves that they prefer being outdoors, so do all you can to make it happen. It isn’t even a case that you need to take them to the park every evening, as even the smallest of gardens can be useful to help your child stay active, as well as give them another location with which to explore and unlock their own imagination.
Do all you can to get involved with your child’s playtime, whether they are playing with their favourite toys, or running around the park or your garden. Long term, the emotional and social benefits will pay off massively for your child.