Instead of screen time, especially when you and your children are at home, encourage your child to play!
Over the past 50 years, much research has demonstrated the powerful impact of play on your child's later learning. These benefits are for children’s intellectual, social, emotional, physical, and language development. When children become immersed in play, the create themes, explore environments, solve problems, and developing shared understandings about the world around them!
You will observe your child play differently depending on the situation. They may play with other children in "parallel play", meaning next to each other but each paying attention to their own "toys" (objects, context, environment). They also may play cooperatively, taking on different roles or imaginary scenarios. All kinds of play are valuable!
Another reason play is so important is empathy. Through play, children learn the value of others' points of view and others' perspectives. This makes them more caring. They even learn to appreciate others' values and cultures through play. They learn to experiment and get better at language as they interact with their friends. They learn build their fine and gross motor skills. They grow their hand eye coordination.
You can support your child's play by providing space, opportunity, and materials. Make sure you choose spaces where kids can play without fear of damaging furniture or injuring themselves. Give the child time to become engaged in their own play activities of their own choice.
Play is fun. But it also is serious learning that pays off big time when it is time for children to do more formal learning!
Erin Rae is the Curriculum Coordinator at Lockport 91.
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