One of the best things about summertime is the time it affords children in unstructured play. Backyards turn into vast wilderness; dress up clothes sprout mermaids, magicians, superheroes, and musicians; stone piles become mountain fortresses; and bicycles give children wings, wheels, and a new world of their very own independence. Many adults have to do some pretty serious unwinding to relax enough to “play.” Children just play. It is their work!
Before school starts and play becomes a commodity, consider what experts say about the importance of play. In an article written by Laurel Bongiorno, entitled “Ten Things Every Parent Should Know About Play,” that appeared at The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) website, Bongiorno discusses how through play children learn and develop cognitive skills, physical abilities, social skills, and literacy skills. For example, think of all that is occurring with a simple game of playing restaurant. Bongiorno reminds us that play is healthy, as it helps children grow healthy and strong. It is also a great stress reducer in children’s lives! She encourages parents to make time for play. As we get ready to start a new school year, it is a good time to consider and plan for this very vital need of your child’s versus their school schedule, homework demands, and outside activities. Play truly provides a rich context for both discovery and secondary learning, as children try out, rehearse, and rehash things from the classroom; a book they have read on their own; or perhaps things taken from a new experience.
Bongiorno also emphasizes outdoor play heavily. According to the work and studies shared by Richard Louv in the 2007 bestselling book Last Child in the Woods, outdoor play is especially powerful in improving cognitive abilities and emotional health. The Bongiorno article encourages parents to trust their instincts when it comes to letting their child play, allowing children the numerous rewards of the activity. She reminds parents that when children’s play lives are rich and they are experiencing the many rewards and benefits of play, their self-esteem improves and their success is likely to follow….