Maria Montessori, one of the last century’s most respected educators, said it best “play is the work of children.” She could not have said it better. Play is so important in the lives of our little ones. It lays the stepping stone for so much; their social, physical, academic, emotional, and speech/language development too. Play truly is their work, how they learn and make sense of this great big world around them.
When children spend their time playing they….
- master newly learned skills by having an opportunity to practice tasks over and over.
- foster their imagination and creativity with each new play scenerio.
- verbalize often which expands their vocabulary and language.
- develop problem solving and critical thinking skills to work through situations that arise.
- learn social skills, cooperation, and empathy when playing with others.
- build self-confidence and independence which equips them to engage in new experiences and environments.
Unfortunately, many children in today’s society are play deprived. Several articles have been written about this and I have had teachers tell me recently that children are coming to school with glazed looks in their eyes when given the opportunity to have free play. They just don’t know where to start?!? Between maxed out schedules at home, ambitious parents eager to push “academics” too much too soon, and all the advanced technology children have access to these days, it appears that PLAY has taken a back seat.
With summer approaching, now is the perfect time for all of us to slow down a bit, do less, and allow more time for play. More time for us to play alongside our children teaching them new things, more time to encourage them to play cooperatively with friends, and yes, more time for them to play completely alone to help foster their sense of independence and creativity. Each of these different play styles are equally important.
Needing a few simple ideas to get started??
Get lost at a park with friends.
Schedule an outing to a new place in your town to discover together.
Plan a few “theme” weeks in your home. Go check out books from the library, pull some toys and arts/crafts you already have that tie into that theme and set aside a time to play and learn together.
Plant a garden OR Make mud pies.
Fill up a bucket with water and dump all the pool or bath toys in it to take outside for a make-your-own water table on a hot summer day.
Go on a nature hunt.
Head to the dollar store and buy some cheap seasonal items (flowers, bugs, etc) to put in a sensory bin full of rice or dried beans. Give your child some cups and bowls too and let them explore all by themselves. Hint: While at the dollar store, grab a shower curtain liner to put underneath to help contain the mess.
Have a car wash for all of your child’s ride-on toys in the driveway.
Or simply, just get on the floor and play with some of your child’s favorite toys together.
As the summer goes on, I will be giving more detailed examples here on the blog of new play ideas to help keep us going! I will also be posting ideas to my summer and play pinterest boards too so follow along if you aren’t already. Bottom line to remember for now as you are planning your summer schedules and filling your child’s day with all kinds of exciting things…. don’t forget to make room for plenty of downtime to allow for the simple act of PLAY. Not only is it a wonderful way to connect with your child, but their development is depending on it too!
**Disclaimer: All communication tips offered in the blog are not meant to substitute for professional speech and language services if your child qualifies for them. They are meant for educational purposes only, to provide simple examples of ways to promote speech and language development in children.