The Power of Play at Home

“Play is the highest form of research”, Albert Einstein

You don’t have to leave home to have a good time with your little one. There is a lot of fun and learning that can happen between your own four walls.

As parents, it is easy to get caught up dragging our kids from one stimulating and educational activity to another. But sometimes taking a few hours out to play at home with can be just as beneficial for both of you.

Why play is so important You’ve probably already heard a lot about the importance of play for young children, as it is widely recognised and discussed by early childhood educators. But here is a quick recap.

Young children are constantly learning, using all of their senses to understand the world them. Through play, they are watching and copying the language and behaviour of others.

In his book 'Play', Dr Stuart Brown claims play is anything but trivial. It is a biological drive integral to our health as sleep or nutrition, and the mechanism by which we become resilient, smart and adaptable people.

Play is so powerful that it is used as the basis for our learning techniques for pre-schoolers and Primary School preps. By getting hands on and having fun, our children immerse themselves in their learning to develop a deeper understanding of the world around them.

There are many simple objects and opportunities around your home will teach your child a variety of skills and abilities. Think simple science and maths, as you half fill a bucket or cup of water. Exercise their creativity and emotional intelligence through dress up and role play. Encourage logic and problem solving through puzzles or simple challenges (like how to make a cubbyhouse out of two blankets, a table and two chairs). Teach them how to share and negotiate in almost about any coordinated play activity.

Not just for the kids It’s not just your child who will benefit from spending time playing. There is a growing push for grown ups to get back in touch with their inner child and indulge in a little play time.

Research suggests play opens up connections in our brains, enhancing our social and emotional abilities. Without play, we are more likely to be affected by problems with stress, resilience and ill-health.

Dr Stuart Brown sees it as a fundamental skill for survival… “We don't survive socially, emotionally, cognitively with any kind of fullness without having a healthy play background that continues throughout life. It is a sustaining, important part of being human.''

The value of adult play is growing in esteem, even making the front page of The Saturday Age recently, where examples of play therapy in nursing homes were identified as offering up to a 20 per cent reduction in agitation levels of dementia sufferers and reducing the need for antipsychotic medication.

So I set you a challenge for a quiet afternoon. Turn off the smartphone. Switch off your computer. Lose your inhibitions. And commit to playing with your child for one whole hour. Don’t start with any expectations, follow their lead for a change and see where it takes you.

Find out more about Claire and her business, Culture Mamas here.
Suzanne Acteson
Suzanne Acteson

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