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Why Real Play for Children is important

Written by Jana Angeles

With the latest cool, techy gadgets and the non-stop, colourful marathons of cartoons, there has been a decline of kids engaging in real play since the world’s digital presence. The home is a very distracting place and when you’re surrounded by things like the TV, iPad and PS4, children are more inclined to stay indoors. In a world like today, parents are still encouraged to motivate their kids to go outside and explore; to navigate, imagine and interact with whatever’s in the local park or backyard and have the confidence in knowing that when you step outside the house, there are many more possibilities when it comes to real play.

Creativity is one of the many benefits children gain when playing outside and that’s because they’re able to utilise their motor skills to sense their surroundings while using their imagination. Because parks are developed where there’s open spaces, grass, dirt, mud and play equipment, real play nurtures your child’s development in interacting with nature and the environment outside of home; for them to engage in the spontaneous moments of real play, your children will appreciate getting some fresh air rather than have their eyes glued to the television.

There are many benefits to real play if you think about. Not only will it keep your children in-tune to the natural surroundings but they will also be active – using all arms and legs and not staying stagnant in one place.

When further exploring real play, parents will begin to notice the advantages of it.

It allows children to interact with the real world rather than a virtual reality one.

  • Your children will be able to participate in outdoor activities. They will also have the opportunity to play with their friends, siblings and parents. Not only will they be able to be technology-free for a couple of hours but they will learn crucial skills such as team building, co-operating with different individuals and realising the value of physical activity.

Gives you an opportunity to grow your child-parent bond with each other. 

  • Besides kicking around the ball and acting like you’re the opposing player (kids love a little competition), spending time outside counts as family time. Being active and playing with each other can make your children realise you value spending time with them. This could mean also having the opportunity to walk around the block and talking to them about things like school, friends and family!

It avoids anti-social behaviour and allows them to form interpersonal relationships with others. 

  • Unlike the virtual reality of play, real play allows your kids to interact with their peers and form strong interpersonal relationships with each other. They’ll be able to communicate effectively, solve problems together and be able to value teamwork more than they would if they were chatting online. They’ll also be able to look back on fun-filled memories and have something to reminisce on when they’re older.
  • When your children are playing on their computer or tablet, this can encourage passive behaviour and can lead to them being anti-social to both their family and friends. Always be aware when this occurs and make sure you talk to them and find ways to create a balance between time spent on technology and real play.

Encourages children to learn effectively.  

  • Believe it or not, real play encourages kids to learn effectively. Because they’re using all their key senses (hear, touch, see, smell, taste), they’ll be more in-tune with the environment. They’ll also be a lot more observant with their surroundings; constantly seeing things happen and the interactions others will encounter.
  • Real play enhances their memory too because they’re able to distinguish different colours, sizes and shapes within the outdoors. Clinical psychologist and physical therapist Fiona Sandoval says, “The brain grows up to 90 percent of its adult size from birth up to five years old. It is important that all the different senses get stimulated in activities like play during this period so that the neurons and brain connections are formed better. If this is achieved, there will be more synapses and connections, which can optimise the brain development.”

Allows them to explore the dimensions of creativity! 

  • Because children are able to use their imaginations more when they’re outside, this allows them to explore the different dimensions of creativity. Being creative can help them enhance their skills during active play because they’ll be able to create games of their own, while also having fun in a diverse, outdoor environment. For parents worrying that kids will get dirty outside, allowing them to get messy will offer them the chance to be creative in whatever they build with their hands. Although we don’t like mess or washing up mud-stained clothes, you’re giving them permission to have fun!

Although our children crave to be with technology at all times, it’s important as parents that we teach them the value of real play to their growth and development. Sometimes being away from technology is all we need to appreciate the outdoors and admire the natural beauty we’re surrounded by!

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