The importance of play in promoting children’s health
Why is play important for children?
Play is so important for the optimal development of children that it has been recognized as a right of every child by the United Nations High Commission. People are increasingly becoming aware that the current generation of children have too little time to play. Paediatricians are now actively recommending play as an essential component of healthy physical and mental development.
Why are children not getting enough play time?
However, in the current age, children are spending very little time for play. Many parents are aware of this and observe that their children have less play time compared to their own childhood. The reasons are several and some of them include:
Lack of resources to play at home: In our modern homes and apartment complexes, very little space is allocated for the play areas. Children are not allowed to play on the streets due to the fear of vehicles and accidents. Even in the community, there are not enough parks and playgrounds.
Lack of resources to play at school: Due to the demand for space, many schools do not have decent playgrounds. They also do not have the resources for creative play and indoor games. Although things seem to be improving, many schools still focus only on academics with little emphasis on play or extracurricular activities.
Parental life style: Longer working hours and hurried life style of the parents mean that parents are unable to spend time quality play time with their children or take them to nearby parks and play grounds.
Academic pressure: Many children and parents are under pressure to complete the home work. Such children start their homework soon after coming home from school, resulting in the lack of enough time for play. Some parents join children from a very young age in institutions which train them for competitive entrance exams. As these institutes focus rigorously on academics, the children unfortunately are left with very little play time.
Electronic gadgets: These days, children are increasingly exposed to electronic gadgets like smart phones, laptops and games. This is a form of passive entertainment and cuts into the play time. Moreover, children addicted to these electronic devices may find physical play less attractive.
Lack of awareness: Some parents may be unaware of the importance of play. Such parents may not encourage children to play even if there are enough resources available to play. Some parents may choose more academic oriented activities after the school rather than physical play, believing that this will increase their child’s chance of success in life.
Poverty and child labour. Poor families relying on the income from their children cannot afford to send them to play.
Once parents understand the advantages of play they will encourage their children for play. Some of the physical and psychological advantages of play in childhood are given below.
What are the advantages of play for children?
Improves physical health: regular physical play helps build active, healthy bodies. This not only helps to improve their coordination and motor skills, but also develops healthy bones, muscles and joints. It is well known that regular exercise improves the fitness of heart and lungs.
Reduces the risk of obesity: obesity is becoming a major health problem both in the developed as well as in the developing countries. Regular physical activity helps to protect children from developing conditions like obesity and related diseases like diabetes.
Develops imagination and thinking: Play can be structured or unstructured. Following the given instructions to build a Lego kit, for example, is structured play. Building something by using own imagination with the same Lego blocks is unstructured play. Unstructured play has no specific learning objective and is fully led by the child. With child-driven play, the child learns how to make their own decisions and is free to explore their own areas of interest. This is the key to developing a strong imagination. Indoor games like chess could stimulate thinking and strategic planning. These are essential skills for the future.
Helps reduce stress and build self-confidence: Too much scheduled activity and not enough leisure time can lead to stress or even depression as the child gets older. Numerous studies demonstrate that there are psychological benefits to playtime. Children manage stress better when they are encouraged to play more often. Participation in physical activity has been shown to build self-confidence, facilitate self-expression and enable social integration. Such a well-rounded, physically active child may choose to adopt other healthy behaviours later in life, such as avoidance of alcohol and drug use.
Helps to strengthen the bond between parents and children: When parents observe their children play or join them in child-driven play, they get opportunity to see the world from their child’s point of view. Such parents learn to communicate more effectively with their children and can offer better guidance. Children feel that their parents are giving attention to them and this helps to build strong relationships. Thus, play offers parents a wonderful opportunity to engage fully with the children.
Team sports help develop teamwork and interpersonal skills: Children learn valuable leadership and social skills while playing team sports like cricket, football etc. Team sports allow children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to acquire several social and interpersonal skills. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says that he learned valuable lessons about leadership while playing high school sports in India. Nadella writes that he learnt the ability to lead others with compassion on the cricket field.
Importance of playing at school: Play has been shown to help children adjust to the school setting. It can be used to enhance children’s learning, behaviour and problem-solving skills. Playing with other children plays an important part in developing social and interpersonal skills.
What are the different types of play we can encourage in children?
Active play: this involves movement and physical activity. Active play is an essential part of a child's development. According to the WHO, children between 5 to 17 years should be getting at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day. Play-based outdoor activities, such as running, ball games, cycling, skipping, swimming etc. are an ideal way to ensure that younger children keep moving for at least an hour a day. Older children can involve in team sports like cricket, football, basketball etc. Some children may enjoy going to the gym.
Creative Play: Any play that ignites a child's imagination by encouraging him to create something. Examples include painting, art work, sculpting play dough, clay, building blocks etc. Providing a creative outlet to the child will lead to many amazing things. Toys such as blocks and dolls, with which children use their imagination fully should be encouraged over passive toys that require limited imagination.
Dramatic Play: play that involves pretend and make believe, or whatever the imagination dreams. Examples include simple role playing, using props to create a new environment, creating scenes or situations with dolls and puppets etc. Children love role-playing and exploring worlds outside of their everyday, creating new and fun situations with every costume and prop.
Manipulative Play: play that involves hand-eye coordination and motor skills. Children need the opportunity to work on finer skills that involve a little more control and direction. Manipulative play develops the sense of coordination, challenging their little fingers to follow the lines or use their tools properly. Some examples of manipulative play are colouring especially in a defined area, building Lego blocks, paper crafts and art involving moving parts that need to be put together, using a safe and simple tool kit to help with tasks around the house etc.
Quiet Play: play that keeps children's mouths shut but their minds open. Quiet play provides children an opportunity to think and reason and can include such activities as beading a necklace, working on puzzles, reading or looking at pictures.
How can we ensure that our children obtain benefits of play?
Now that we understood the advantages of play here are some practical steps to ensure that children benefit most from regular play:
Play at home: Parents should realize the benefits of regular play. Only then will they encourage the children to play every day at home. They should put aside a certain time of the day for physical play. For example, the parents can encourage the child to play every day after returning from school in the evening.
Children should spend 45 to 60 minutes of physical play every day. This could be with family members or friends. It is not essential that parents spend lot of money on sports equipment. Simple things like skipping, playing with a ball, riding a bicycle, running in the park etc. can give the necessary physical activity.
Play at school: It is important to have some creative play at school and home. Some of the play must remain entirely child driven, with parents remaining passive observers. Again, the parents need not always spend a lot of money. They can use simple tools like cardboard boxes, tapes, papers, clay etc. for creative play.
Parents should strive to spend some time playing with children. Parents can involve themselves in physical play or indoor games like chess and caroms at home. They can be a passive observer in a child driven play or take the kids them to play ground, park etc. to play with other children. Playtime should be a wonderful opportunity to engage with children and is as important as buying toys or expensive gifts for the children.
Parents should not restrict play during exam times or in case of heavy homework because playing in fresh air sharpens the mind and provides relaxation for the child. This in turn can improve the academic performance.
If possible, when buying homes, parents should ensure that there is enough playing space for the children. Children should be discouraged playing on the streets if there is risk of accidents. If there is not enough space to play at home, parents should try to take children to local playground or enrol in organized physical activities.
When admitting the children in schools, parents should look at the playing opportunities and facilities at schools. Schools should encourage children to play for certain time every day. This need not always be a structured play and could even be for a brief period between academic sessions. Parents and schools should try and find a balance between educational activities and having fun for fun’s sake.
Governments should ensure that there are accessible playgrounds and facilities for play in the communities.
The use of electronic gadgets (lap tops, electronic games, mobile phones etc.) should be restricted. In addition to the several disadvantages they pose, they also cut into the play time and make physical play less attractive to the child.
Paediatricians should play an active role to promote free play as an essential part of childhood. They should emphasize the advantages of active play and discourage parents from the excessive use of passive entertainment (e.g., television and computer games).
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
September 24, 2018
September 24, 2018
September 24, 2018
September 25, 2018
September 18, 2018
September 10, 2018
September 09, 2018
September 06, 2018
September 04, 2018
August 29, 2018
Having a doctor like you is something that nearly everyone wants, but many people never get to experience. You have been so good to me and helped me t
I am now mom of a naughty toddler. When I started taking her to Dr. Srinivas she was 6 months old. Now she is 17 months old. I followed every advice a
My son had febrile seizure in April. It was under the careful diagnosis and care from Dr. Srinivas that he had recovered from the high fever. Another
I can relate to two instances where Dr. Srinivas Jakka has helped my baby. Once it was in May 2014 wherein she had Viral gastroenteritis and was havin
We have an awesome and remarkable experience with Dr Srinivas Jakka as always. He is a very experienced paediatrician, pulmonologist and allergy speci
Gopal Sathiraju, IT Professional
Dr. Srinivas is simply excellent. It is evident with my experience that he knows child psychology very well. My kid is normally very scared of doctors
Lakshmikanth Mantri, Deputy Manager, BHEL
Dr Srinivas Jakka is simply excellent. My Son aged 2 months was suffering with dry cough. Initially we visited many doctors in Anantapur and Puttapart
Today I met Dr Srinivas Jakka with my daughter and wife in the clinic. Our experience with Doctor Jakka was excellent and he spend so much time to und
Our experience with Dr. Srinivas Jakka is pleasant and worth remembering. Both my elder daughter and my son had allergy problems and we consulted Dr.
Anand John Sunil