The Value of Active Play
We all know that playing is fun. Have any doubts? Just watch how exuberant, carefree and energized kids are when they’re engaged in an activity and having a good time. It turns out that there are other benefits to active play besides just having a good time. Studies have shown that it’s also a major factor in the appropriate social, emotional, mental and physical development of children. This theory dates back to such noted psychologists as Sigmund Freud, and it continues to be supported by current child development experts. At kool kids, we believe strongly in the value of active play and kept that in mind when we designed our activity centre.
When children are engaged in play, they’re presented with certain situations, interactions and challenges. As they develop competencies in these areas, they’re honing the same social, mental and physical skills they’ll need in other aspects of life.
Freud said that play is a vehicle for children to master situations safely, and it helps children engage in “wish fulfillment” while mastering their world. Erik Erikson, another noted psychologist, stated that as a child moves through specific stages of development, play creates lifelike situations in which the child can “practice” understanding and acting on the choices each situation presents.
These theories still are considered true today. In fact, many child development experts believe that children who don’t engage in regular active play may suffer as adults.
They say that a child who doesn’t play enough can grow up to become an adult poorly equipped to perform well mentally, physically and socially. Contrary to what many parents believe, play is not the opposite of work, or something children do after the work is done; although play is fun, it has a definite purpose: to help the child successfully develop valuable skills such as:
- Imagination and creativity
- Abstract thinking
- Empathy and the ability to cooperate
- Social, language and mental skills
- Learning to solve problems
- Confidence and self-esteem
EXPLORATION AND PHYSICAL FITNESS
Another benefit of active play that’s not readily available in some other activities is the opportunity for children to use their imagination. Organized sports, gym class, or even traditional school- yard playgrounds all encourage predictable forms of play and interaction, often following rules.
In contrast,kool kids offers dynamic and innovative play equipment that encourages kids to be creative and participate in “exploratory” play. This involves kids literally having an adventure, such as exploring a maze, or figuring out how to get from one part of the apparatus to another. It also encourages things like role-playing and other imaginative activities that promote abstract thinking, empathy, cooperativeness, language and problem-solving skills.
Active play is also a great way to promote physical exercise. Children who engage in active play learn many basic motor skills that are not taught in organized sports. Furthermore, studies show that poor physical fitness among children is often traced to play deprivation. By making exercise fun and exciting, kids will be more motivated to engage in the activity. In turn, this will make children more likely to continue to exercise as they grow older.
HAPPY AND HEALTHY
The experts have concluded, and parents can certainly testify, that active play is truly beneficial, and more than just a way to keep kids busy and out of trouble. Children who regularly engage in active play are more likely to be happy, physically fit and possess superior verbal and social skills — all traits that will serve them later in life.
At kool kids, we like the idea of not just providing a fun and exciting play environment for children, but also of helping them grow into better-adjusted and healthier young adults.