“Mom, dad … come and look! See what I can do …”
Whether we are parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, or for other reasons have children around us, we know that these invitations are often given. Children want to involve us in their world of play and fantasy, but do we really understand how incredibly powerful play is?
Just the other day, I joined the virtual launch of the Care Giver Learning Through Play Project, which credible organisations like Hope Worldwide South Africa and Save the Children with partners will roll out in South Africa in the near future. They know how vital it is for parents to be engaged in all areas of their children’s lives, never the less in playing. The goal of the project is to promote a behaviour change among children’s caregivers when it comes to the importance of play, for if it is something that is misunderstood, it’s the power of play.
How great is this?! This is exactly what we (Give a Child a Family) believe in too. Playing is crucial in the upbringing of children. Parents and other caregivers who have completed our Parenting training over the years have learned about the importance of play and have discovered the joy in participating in the games their children are playing.
Play is not only something fun for children to do, no, it is so much more. It helps them in their physical, intellectual and emotional development as well as to adapt socially. It is meaningful and assists them to make sense of the world around them. It brings smiles and laughter but also teaches how to deal with frustrations and conflicts. It involves children deeply, it helps them to practice new skills and figure out possibilities at the same time as they learn to understand and communicate with others.
Playing with our children turns our attention to only them. It strengthens the bond between us and is a great communication tool. We support them when they test out new things and grow in confidence. Who does not want to be part of that?
Many parents mention that they do not have time, but the prioritising of children will live with them for the rest of their lives. A short while every day makes all the difference. Playing is learning and the opportunities children are given at an early age give a better chance to a bright future.
Written by: Anna-Karin Ohrnstedt