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The Importance of Play for Child Development

Posted in Child Development, Benefits of Swim Lessons

If you’re like most parents, playtime with your kids is your favorite time. It can be a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of your daily routine when you have some time at home and can spend valuable moments with your children playing. The value of play extends far beyond the moment in which they’re playing. In fact, there are nearly endless benefits of play. A parent and child playing together are one of the most important things that can take place to foster learning - and instill a love for ongoing learning in children. Here’s why:

There’s More to Play Than Meets the Eye

There has been a multitude of studies about the positive impacts of play, but most of these studies all point back to one major takeaway: play is a powerful form of learning. When kids have the opportunity to engage in unstructured, child-led play, it’s all about the process they embark upon rather than achieving a specific outcome. And considering that the first five years of a child’s life are when their neural pathways and connections are formed, play goes a long way in strengthening - and becoming an outlet for - creativity, communication, problem-solving, resilience, emotional regulation, and relationship building.

So, what counts as play?

  • Anything that is enjoyable for the child, intrinsically motivated (e.g. there are no external rewards or motivations for engaging in the activity)

  • Process-oriented (the process matters more than the end result)

  • Freely chosen

  • Involves active engagement

  • Non-literal (involves the imagination)

All of these aspects create activities that spark brain development and set the stage for positive feelings toward learning that can last a lifetime.

Ideas for Play

Playing can take countless forms; it’s up to your child to decide what that means for them. You can offer various activities, or to play games for preschoolers with your little one, but ultimately your child should decide on the activity.  Whatever shape it takes, playtime should be fun and stress-free. Let your child use their creativity, and be sure to play along while letting your child lead the way.

Also, remember that playtime can always take place in the pool. Get in the pool with your kids, and play games with them with their favorite pool toys. If they create their own game, even better. Even if it seems like this time is all about silliness, keep in mind that your child is staying active, staying away from screens, engaging with you in quality time, and even practicing their swimming skills. You can’t really beat all those benefits of play, packaged in a single activity.

Even if you’re strapped for time, anyone can carve out 15 minutes each day to let your child lead you in play. The benefits of this are limitless, and you and your child are sure to love how playtime grows your bond. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about play-based learning swim lessons.