Published: 10/15/2014 - Updated: 01/07/2018
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
Education experts know that an adult that knows how to think was once a child that knew how to play. It is during playtime that children develop a large amount of their abilities that help them as children, to develop skills and strategies that will make then undoubtedly a more intelligent, creative, and cooperative individual. The truth is, children learn most during playtime, especially when they are younger. When a child plays, they devote all of their attention to it and they feel motivated. It is an unbeatable resource because the child can begin to understand concepts like discipline, the importance of rule, a sense of solidarity, etc., that could perhaps be difficult to transmit via any other method.
Parents could save themselves from a lot of big discussions, as well as scoldings and punishments, if they play with their children. The problem is that in this day and age, playtime between adults and children has been substituted in large part by the internet of video games. These are more of a sort of attention-capturing entertainment for youth, but they don’t really develop intelligence nor the type of sensitivity that is developed through playtime with others.
Video games can help a child to develop strategic thinking, good logic, and a lot of observation, but they do not develop any sort of sensitivity nor closeness with others. Nor do they make them conscious of emotions, nor help them mature with empathetic intelligence. There are a lot of video games in which the child simply kills, and kills. And the more they kill, fight, and remove “obstacles”, they more they win. It’s not that they squabble with death or obstacles, but intelligent thought isn’t good for anything if it isn’t combined with a good dose of sensitivity for oneself and their surroundings.
Playtime between adults and children
When playtime is well thought-out, and is appropriate for the child’s age and abilities, it then becomes the best resource for teaching and transmitting values and all sorts of abilities to the child, like those mentioned below:
- Develops observation and strategic thought.
- A sense of cooperation.
- Sensitivity towards people and empathy for fellow people. This helps them to better relate to themselves and others.
- Develops creativity and analytic thought.
- Helps the child to anticipate results from making certain decisions, which will help them to decide and be more emotionally mature.
In regards to games that involve the body, like soccer, basketball, or volleyball, etc.
- The child develops body awareness regarding their abilities and motor skills.
- Will help them develop coordination and body harmony.
- Builds their confidence for managing their body.
- Develops their motor coordination and natural movements.
- Gives the child freedom of movement and a sense of the space in which he/she moves.
Several schools and countries stress the importance of playtime as the basis of creative action and the development of abilities in physical education. But one of the biggest problems is that the teachers do not make the programs fitting, or they are sub-par for the children, or the teachers aren’t truly motivated with their students or dedicated to their profession, which makes physical education frequently insufficient in underdeveloped countries.
How do I play with my child?
Well, this question might be a bit over-the-top for those that experience playtime spontaneously. However, a lot of times this isn’t easy for parents to start a game, especially when they aren’t used to it, or when their child is reluctant or apathetic, or when they don’t want to leave their video games and resist playing with others.
Here are some tips to motivate your child to play:
- To start a game, the parents must also be motivated as well. If they aren’t, this will only give your child the wrong impression, and they won’t want to play.
- The parent must chose to do something that they like to do so that both people can enjoy the activity.
- Chose a game that is appropriate for your child’s age and abilities, and also try to let them take part in choosing the game.
- Make sure the rules are clear at the beginning of the game, irregardless of whether it is a sports or a strategic game (like cards, chess, dominoes, etc.). All games have rules, and the parent must establish them at the beginning.
- If the child appears reluctant to follow the rules, tell them to start by playing a sample game, and as the game progresses continue explaining the rules.
- So what should I do if my child doesn’t want to play? If you child would rather play video games, you could let them play for a bit, but make sure to establish a schedule, and do not let them play for longer than one hour a day. Stay firm in this schedule so the child gets used to only playing for a certain amount of time, and so their world doesn’t revolve around those games. After they turn the game off they might be a little angry, but this is when you should suggest playing a game. Don’t force it if they don’t want to, but invite a sibling or a cousin to play something fun with you, and perhaps, your child might want to play too. If they don’t want to you could then start to play, for example, when they need to decide something, like washing the dishes or doing some household chore. Play cards or chess, and let the winner choose who does the chores, and how.
- If you lose you always need to be a good loser. Shake their hand and congratulate them on their win. Explain to them what you learned from the game. This will teach your child that winning and competing is not what’s important, but rather, participating, thinking, considering, creating, and imagining is.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 01/07/2018
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