Little Avni and Kyla are busy making sandcastles in the playground sandpit while inside the kitchen of a house close by Mihir and Aiden take on the make-believe role of the chef and sous chef while their four friends are the guests in a birthday party. In another household Chris and Steven are running about in the living room throwing and catching cushions (not the best indoor play). In the playground outside Christine and her friends are racing to the swings to be the first one to get a turn on the swings.
What they all have in common is the smiles, joy and complete involvement of all the children, irrespective of the space or kind of play. Such is the Magical Power of play. At large educators and parents have experienced its magic as children but somehow miss out on its importance when raising their own children. Structured family routines around classes for activities, for academic success is leaving families with little time for unstructured free play. Lack of suitable safe spaces in and around the child’s home, traffic and unsuitable or outdated play equipment in parks, lack of understanding in adults regarding the benefits of unstructured play over structured plans can be common reasons why children world over are getting lesser opportunities to play. That does not diminish the awareness that has been generated through government and private personal groups and agencies to promote free unstructured paly in children.
Developing an understanding of certain key aspects of play is the first step a parent, an educator and any advocate of unstructured play. Next comes promoting and providing opportunities for free play through tiny actionable steps.
Image credit: Canva.com
Play is not just mindless engagement but the highest form of opportunity to grow that we can provide to our children. It does not have to be expensive in terms of money but needs investment of thought and time from adults. Let us provide our children with what matters most-PLAY!