Create happy, healthy playtime moments with these tips.
CREATED WITH NESTLE CHUCKIE
Playtime is more than just another way to pass the time and keep your children occupied. When you play with them, you create moments that allow them to learn more about themselves and their environment. Didn't Albert Einstein once say, "Play is the highest form of research"? During playtime, you also get to turn ordinary activities into special bonding moments that they can look forward to.
While playtime is fun, it is also fleeting. There doesn't seem to be enough time to spend with your little ones—they grow up so fast! While they're still young, create happy, healthy playtime moments with your kids. Here's how:
DO use your imagination.
Be the one to lead your kids in imaginary scenarios—zooming into outer space, for example. Ask questions such as "How many comets do you see?" and "What color is your planet?" to see how they will respond. Seeing you take the lead will encourage them to let their imagination run wild.
DO keep it simple.
You don't want to overwhelm your kids with too many toys or activities. Stick to just a few. This allows them to focus. William J. Bennett, author of The Educated Child, says that often it is the "simple toys that do the best job putting little imaginations and muscles to work."
DO encourage creative play.
Creativity comes in many forms. Turn an afternoon of arts and crafts into your playtime bonding activity. According to Joan Beck, author of How to Raise a Brighter Child, art materials help children develop sensitivity, originality, flexibility, and imagination, so why not pull out some art supplies and draw cartoon or movie characters, or mold fun shapes with clay? Allow your kids to see what medium they are most comfortable with, and make it a staple of your playtime.
DON'T rely too much on store-bought toys and gadgets.
Playtime isn't always about the latest technology. In fact, Jeffrey Goldstein writes in his review of research entitled Play in Children’s Development, Health and Well-Being, "The most striking thing about hi-tech toys is that the technology does not in itself drive play." You can still have fun with your kids with simple things you can find at home. Bang on those pots and pans and pretend you're at a concert, or play dress-up using your old clothes and accessories.
DO take it outdoors.
We all lament about how kids are always stuck indoors, glued to their gadgets. Shake things up by taking them outside. Bennett emphasizes learning through play also involves going outside to run, jump, climb, swim, and play. Get your kids to relive your own childhood play adventures: flying a kite, riding a bike, and playing a round of patintero or hide-and-seek. The next time you talk about how you played in the streets as a kid, your kids will also be able to relate and have fond memories of the same games you used to play.
DON'T be too rigid about playtime schedules.
Just because you have three hours to play doesn't mean you have to use up all three hours. Watch out for signs of exhaustion or boredom in your children, and know when to call it a day. "Children learn best through play," says Barbara Zureer Pearson, Ph.D. in Raising a Bilingual Child, but she reminds parents to "keep it light." Playtime is more about quality than quantity.
DO make sure it is also a learning experience.
Use playtime to impart little lessons to your kids. We're not talking about mathematical theories or historical tidbits here (although these could help). Bennett believes that during playtime, a child learns life lessons, such as the benefits of being patient, waiting for one's turn, and sharing with others.
DO get the rest of the family to join in.
Expand your children's social circle. Include their ate, kuya, or younger cousins when you play so that your little ones get to experience playing and interacting with children within their age range. This builds confidence and independence which, Bennet shares, helps your kids take part in social interactions.
Playtime creates a stronger bond between you and your kids. You get to see what goes on in their imagination, while they get to see you connect with them on their level by being silly and having fun.