Play is the work of childhood. One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me as a child was the gift of play. They saw play as an important piece of childhood that should be respected. They took our play seriously, and made sure we had time to play. When I look at the ways I use my time and the talents I have chosen to develop, many of them were developed through free play.
Benefits of Play for Children
Through play, children acquire and apply knowledge and skills – the definition of intelligence! Play provides a safe atmosphere for children to make and recover from mistakes, building resilience. Through play, children discover who they are, what they care about, what they love, and what they fear. Play is a space for children to learn self-awareness.
Positive Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discovered that “flow” – a state of heightened focus and immersion in activities such as art, play, and work, is the key to happiness. Through free play, children discover this “flow” for the first time. The ability to enter “flow” state is a critical component of creative activities – from art and music to scientific discoveries and innovation.
Through play, children learn to communicate, negotiate, and cooperate. Children use play to process their daily experiences, and through that processing they develop social and emotional intelligence. The childhood work of play allows children to use intrinsic motivation to complete tasks that build the skills that will carry them through life.
Because play is important, we limit outside activities and keep screens off. Because play is important, I take my kids outside. Because play is important, I make to time to sit with them and watch and listen to their play. Watching my children play is an amazing part of being a parent, and it helps me get to know each of children as individuals.
How do you prioritize play in your home?
Janine of Encourage Play inspired me to write this post as part of her Play Matters blog hop for September. Click on the image above to learn more about this series!