The sight of kids learning new sports and activities is one of the most endearing I know of. They’re full of energy and excitement, and you can feel their delight as they build both their physical and mental abilities. It’s so much more rewarding — for parents as well as the kids — than simply plonking them in front of a screen!
My job has given me the pleasure of seeing hundreds of kids enjoy physical play. It’s fun, but it has more concrete benefits as well. Here are some of the most important:
1) Play Fosters Imagination And Confidence
Physical activity gives children plenty of opportunities to try new things. This is great for overcoming fears and making them more confident in their potential. Extensive psychological research has confirmed that getting more physical activity increases children’s senses of self-esteem and accomplishment. (Rae Pica, an expert in movement education, wrote an excellent piece on this subject in Early Childhood News.)
Each new movement or exercise that a child tackles presents an opportunity to learn the value of practise and experience a sense of accomplishment. From turning a somersault to climbing over the monkey bars, each physical challenge mastered is another dose of confidence. Children who play frequently are inspired to tackle ever more challenging physical feats.
2) Play Improves Physical Coordination And Athletic Ability
Practically every form of physical activity helps kids develop their physical talents. Something as simple as touching their toes teaches them about balance, spatial relationships, and coordination. Playing with a ball provides the opportunity to improve fine motor control. Dancing and other rhythmic movements teach children how to move with a beat. Indoor climbing teaches children about adventure whilst keeping physically fit. Why not try bouldering in Croydon at the leading indoor climbing company.
Physical play offers exponential benefits over time. Play encourages physical fitness, and fit children are better equipped — and more inclined — to participate in sports, dance, games, and other physical activities as they grow. Getting children used to a regular level of physical activity improves strength, endurance, flexibility, cardiovascular health, and weight. Frequent play also increases kids’ energy levels, protecting them from fatigue even on the busiest of days.
3) Play Has A Socially Instructive Component
Playtime allows children to interact in both competitive and non-competitive contexts. Playing together builds better communication and teamwork skills.
Many deceptively simple children’s games rely on an impressive amount of collaboration and teamwork, making them great learning opportunities for their participants. A class of children allowed to play with a parachute, for example, needs to work together to create waves. ‘Cat and mouse’ is another example of a group game that obliges participants to each take on specific roles. For older children, actual team sports like football give players the chance to build off each other’s achievements and learn how to work together toward a group goal.
4) Play Is An Opportunity For Parents And Children To Bond
As discussed above, children need a certain amount of structure in their playtime to realise the greatest benefits. This structure, in the form of demonstrations, instructions, and coaching, typically comes from caregivers, teachers, or parents. For parents, in particular, this sort of physical interaction is a precious opportunity to spend more quality time with children. Shared playtime increases parents’ engagement and makes them a larger part of their children’s lives than simply observing their kids in action. Playing together also lets parents get a better understanding of their children’s tastes. Which games do they like best? Which ones do they need help with? These are things every parent will appreciate knowing.
5) Play Is About Making Children Happy
Play is every bit as important to children as work is to adults. It represents their best opportunities to socialize, develop physically and mentally, and learn new skills. Playtime also makes a solid foundation for daily routines and becomes the base for building a healthier, more active lifestyle as children grow up.