Toddler, Child
29th Oct 2020

Exploring, playing and leaning into curiosities are part of childhood for many children, and learning about the importance of playtime may have you reaching for the colourful blocks and encouraging them to go have some fun! Not only is play something children may like to do, there are an array of benefits that go hand in hand with the practice.

Unsure how playtime may be a beneficial part of your little one’s daily routine? Explore the different types of play and how they may help support your child as they grow up.

What Are The Different Types of Play? 1

Not all play is created equal. In fact, there are two distinct types of play children should regularly engage in: unstructured and structured.

Unstructured Play

Unstructured play isn’t planned and allows your child to use their imagination wholeheartedly and move at their own pace.

Some examples of unstructured play include creative play with others, like games involving art or music, imaginative games like dress ups or make-believe, or exploring favourite playtime spaces like backyards or parks.

You may like to be part of your child’s unstructured play by following their lead, but try not to step unless they become overwhelmed or carried away. After all, unstructured play is a fabulous opportunity for your little one’s unfettered creativity to run free and confidence in their ability to be independent to blossom.

Structured Play

Conversely, structured play is more organised and may happen at an allocated space or time, generally organised by a parent or caregiver.

Examples of

  • Swimming lessons
  • Team sports
  • Weekly board game nights,
  • Dance classes

How Does Play Support Your Child’s Healthy Development?

Playtime presents the opportunity for all manner of potential benefits to your little one’s healthy growth and development.

Whether they’re playing sport, taking a trip to the playground, or constructing a make-believe world in the lounge room, play is an integral part of your little one’s balanced schedule. It allows your child to engage, imagination, physical and emotional strength without the pressures of a school project or competitive sporting match.

Through play, children engage and interact with the world around them at a younger age while creating and exploring the world they can master.

The following are examples of how play can be beneficial for both parent and child alike:

Play and Independence 2

When your child is in the driving seat during playtime, they get to practice decision-making skills and move at their own pace. This allows them to discover which topics and activities peak their interest and develop things they are passionate about and wish to pursue regularly.

Of course, depending on their age and the activity at hand, it may be necessary for an adult to supervise playtime. However, you may like to consider how frequently you interrupt your little one while they’re playing.

When playtime is frequently directed by adults, your child may become accustomed to rules and regulations, rather than playing with a sense of freedom and curiosity.

Play and Physical Health 2-3

With so much of playtime intrinsically entangled with physical activity, the benefits of play extend to supporting your little one’s overall physical health.

Encouraging your little one to run, jump, swim, dance and move helps to not only support their muscle and bone development as well as cardiovascular health, it can also help them appreciate the benefits of leading an active life from an early age.

Play and Understanding Your Children 2

When observing your child playing, you’re engaging in a unique opportunity to see how they navigate their world as well as how they interact with others and their surroundings.

Play offers a glimpse into your child’s world, which may help you communicate with them more effectively.

For less verbal children, play may be a way for them to communicate their views or frustrations (for example through drawing), allowing parents to further their understanding of their little one’s perspective.

Playtime can be a way for your little one to have fun and sate their curiosities, while unconsciously absorbing an array of benefits for their growth and development. From encouraging physical activity to developing qualities of independence, your child’s daily activities are cogs in the wheel of a childhood filled with memories and practical learning.

Have you found this information useful? If so, you may enjoy the following:

Benefits of Sport Every Parent Should Know And Love

Support Your Child’s Focus With These Three Helpful Tips

How To Make Family Friendly Slime

References:

  1. gov.au. (2019). The importance of play in children’s learning and development. [online] Available at: https://www.startingblocks.gov.au/other-resources/factsheets/the-importance-of-play-in-children-s-learning-and-development/.
  2. Ginsburg, K.R. (2007). The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds. PEDIATRICS, [online] 119(1), pp.182–191. Available at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182.
  3. Raising Children Network. (2019). Why play is important. [online] Available at: https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/play-learning/play-ideas/why-play-is-important.

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