The Benefits of Playtime for Your Children

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The Summer holidays are now in full flow, so here at Health Shield we want to explore the benefits of a child’s playtime since they have plenty of days to fill before September. Recent reports are suggesting that today’s children will be much less healthy at 65 than those of this age today. Figures are high for obesity, and too much sugar and not enough exercise are being blamed. Therefore, what better way to encourage your children to be active than playtime?

Watching the children play, you may just think that they are out having fun, using their imaginations to build forts and turn themselves in knights and princesses, but do you really know the benefits they get from such activities?

As part of their development, play is essential. It contributes to their cognitive, physical, social and emotional wellbeing and should not be seen as an optional activity. There are so many health benefits of playing outside such as improvements in their general health and wellbeing as well as their physical fitness and behaviour. Research suggests that 75% of the brain develops between birth and the age of 20, making these years of play imperative to a child’s growth.

As an adult, life in modern society is hurried. There is always somewhere we need to be or something we need to be doing and sometimes we forget to take time out and notice the importance of our children being children. Of course, technology plays a huge part in a child’s life today, but we must remember it is more vital for them to revert back to individual child-driven play. By ensuring this, you are helping your child with so much more than just keeping them entertained. You are allowing them to be creative and enhance their brain development, gain confidence, conquer fears and prepare for adult life with role play. They just see it as having fun unaware of the subconscious affects.

Childs Play vs Adult Play

There are two types of play — child-led and adult-led. Although we may enjoy participating in play with our children and grandchildren, sometimes it’s best to let them take the lead role. Adult-led play means children can lose some of the benefits if they are controlled by adults, however, it does provide the opportunity to have some family time and fully engage with your children and help shape the people they are growing into so it is important to try and strike a balance between both forms of play.

Did you know that successful playtime even helps with your child’s learning? Various studies have shown that play helps children to adjust to the school setting and improves their learning abilities, behaviours and problem solving skills. Since play develops brain function, we are helping our children to learn to manage time, plan, organise and learn what is and isn’t appropriate to say or do in any given situation.

Using the playground

It is now instilled from a young age that the development of fine and gross motor skills is important and a medical professional will check on these at your child’s development checks. Playtime allows the chance to improve these skills which cover writing, running, flexibility and balance. In addition to this, the fine tuning they are doing with growing their muscles, heart and lung function help them fight off obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Some might see taking the children to the park as a chance to wear them out for bedtime, but in fact the range of equipment installed at playgrounds now is so extensive and intricate that it benefits a child health as well as providing amusement. Certain equipment will encourage them to take risks and challenges and develops a sense of achievement, whilst others can allow them to build self-confidence. Even using slides can help them learn to share and take turns.

We should also be encouraging children to emotionally express themselves. It will build their emotional strength and stability, help them with meeting new friends, build on relationships and face fears both now and in later life.

Of course, using their imagination also helps to relieve boredom as they learn to think up their own entertainment with items from around the house. This is where role play comes in with cushions for a fort, wooden spoons when they pretend to be knights and kitchen roll tubes as binoculars or instruments.

The worrying thing for some is the diminishing leisure time children today seem to have. Many children now spend more time on tablets and watching TV than using play to mentally develop. On the flip side, providing too much structure to a child’s life takes away their ability to learn how to entertain themselves and take on important additional social skills.

So, whilst the children are home and we have some time to enjoy them, put away the technology and remember your own childhood. Bring out your own imagination, have fun, make everyone laugh and help shape the future of the person your child will become.

If you are looking for an exciting day out to expand your child’s imagination and development and you are a member of Health Shield, why not visit PERKS within mywellness and see what discounts you can get on some quality fun family time from arts and crafts supplies to outdoor toys.