Why is Play So Important For Child Development?
THE BENEFITS OF PLAY
Play allows children to use their creativity while it develops:
• Their imagination,
• Their dexterity,
• Their physical,
• Their cognitive and
• Their emotional strength
Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Play is a simple joy that is a cherished part of childhood.
However, there are a variety of factors that have reduced play:
• Hurried lifestyle (For some children, it becomes a source of stress and anxiety and may even contribute to depression)
• Changes in family structure (It appears that increased pressures of adolescence have left some young people less equipped to manage the transition toward the college years and results in health counseling. A survey by the American College Health Association reported that 61% of college students had feelings of hopelessness during the previous academic year, 45% felt so depressed they had trouble functioning and 9% suffered suicidal ideation.)
• Increased attention to academics and enrichment activities at the expense of recess or free child-centered play. (Perfectionism is challenging to the child and has a broader effect on society because it may stifle creativity and unencumbered thinking. Experts believe today’s pressured lifestyle is an important contributor.)
• When the adults control the rules and concerns, play loses its benefits in developing creativity, leadership and group skills. (This competitive era may be producing a minority of young people so intensely worried about the appearance of high achievement that they will forsake core values such as fairness and honesty for the sake of acquiring good grades.)
Despite the numerous benefits derived from play for both children, teachers and parents, time for free play has been markedly reduced for some children. This trend has even affected kindergarten children, who have had free play reduced in their schedules to make room for more academics. A 1989 survey taken by the National Association of Elementary School Principals found that 96% of surveyed school systems had at least 1 recess period. Another survey a decade later found that only 70% of even kindergarten classrooms had a recess period.
Currently, many schoolchildren are given less free time and fewer physical outlets at school; many school districts responded to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 by reducing time committed to recess, the creative arts and even physical education in an effort to focus on reading and mathematics.
Next time, we will take a look at the family factors that have changed the routine of childhood!