Play is very important here at Dolphin P.O.D – the ‘P’ in P.O.D stands for play, that’s how important! During play, the child is free to explore their environment, both internal and external, as well as get to know more about themselves and others! Play is crucial to reaching the developmental milestones of children; refining their gross and fine motor skills, their balance, hand-eye coordination, to name a few. Along with these, children get acquainted with their own likes and dislikes, their own shortcomings and strengths, grasping appropriate ways to express themselves, etc. Through various group activities, children learn certain etiquettes of play, such as fair play, following rules, collaboration, contributing and communicating their own ideas to enhance the experience. Play is so essential (not just for children) that it is the purely innocent essence of children! Without play, children would seize to be the fun and adorable little humans that we know and love!
Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of National Institute of Play, has divided or broken down, rather, play in 7 different types and mentions the varying benefits of each:
Regarded as the earliest forms of play, has a lot to do with facial expressions, gestures, tones and sounds, which the child picks up from the adults around him or her. Learning activities for kids such as peek-a-boo, mirroring games and such, builds awareness and fosters happiness. Entering your child’s world shows that you are listening and understanding him/her.
Until your child starts going to school, you, as parents, are their whole world. They learn HOW to play by your playful interactions with them and this helps them learn how to play with and treat others when the time comes. Some great activities for kids and parents can be baking/cooking together, doing a fun jigsaw puzzle, using building blocks to create, or starting some other art project. Some tips to follow; don’t be too instructive with your child, giving too many instructions may hamper their own imagination and creativity, don’t let your child boss you around either as this may in fact turn him/her into a spoilt brat – find the right balance through experimentation and keeping these tips in mind!
Imaginative or pretend play is where the creativity really comes to the forefront and your child uses this opportunity to make sense of their world, their mind, and the world and mind of others through this play. Some common group activities for kids tend to be playing ‘Teacher’, ‘Doctor’, and other such real-life re-enactments. Even though you may not want to play pretend with your child, take the time to discuss with them nature or social issues, or maybe read a fun bedtime story instead.
This mode of play gives our children a better spatial understanding; the effects of gravity, refining our balance when we dance, not to mention the physical efforts to get a movement right strengthens our resilience and adaptability. Some fun learning activities for children can be; hide-and-seek, running and chasing games, rough-housing games involving a lot of tumbling and tickling can help release any pent-up stress hormones in children and parents alike which would otherwise find release through tantrums!
Play such as building and creating through the manipulation of objects; blocks and legos, puzzles, dolls and figurines, allow children to explore the functions of various everyday objects. These learning activities are great to teach and evolve the child’s ability to problem solve and rely on their critical-thinking more than on others!
The nature of this play helps develop children’s divergent thinking, being able to think creatively or out-of-the-box. Different stories provide children with different information on self and others; cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. This mode of play helps in improving the child’s sense of well-being and self-identity. An interesting learning activity for kids can be where parents make up a beginning and let the children explore and take it forward, if they find themselves stuck or repeating the same ideas and plot, provide an idea or two.
Creativity is fostered and developed in children initially during pretend play and role-playing, this encourages them to think of new ideas and ways to do things, adding function and progress for the future. Stimulation of creative ideas can be done by asking your child to come up new ways of using everyday items and objects, or toys. Express your openness and curiosity by asking them to come up with more than one idea and add on your own.