The playground is not just for children to play and have fun. It is also a place where your child learns new skills. We tell you why you should take your child to the playground every day.
By Sarika Chuni
“Play is a child’s first claim on the community. Play is nature’s training for life. No community can infringe that right without doing deep and enduring harm to the minds and bodies of its citizens.” – David Lloyd George
Children giggling, running, jumping, sliding and swinging - these are some of the things we think about when we talk about a playground. It’s a happy and carefree environment, where a child plays and mingles with his friends.
But, a playground can also be a learning ground for the child. Apart from the development of gross motor skills, research has also shown how visiting a playground can help in the development of a child’s brain and enhance his life skills or socio-emotional capabilities. All kinds of learning – be it social, emotional or cognitive – is accelerated, facilitated and fuelled by the pleasure of play. The way the child relates to other children in the playground also reflects how the child relates with people in general.
In his book, ‘The Power of Play’, renowned psychologist David Elkind, states, “…over the past two decades, children have lost twelve hours of free time a week, including eight hours of unstructured play and outdoors activities… (even) television programmes rarely depict children as simply playing and having a good time.” This cultural change has cost our children their health. More children are obese, lethargic, have low immunity or underdeveloped social skills. It is, therefore, our responsibility, as parents, to bring spontaneous, self-initiated play back into our children’s lives.
In the words of child psychologist Marc H. Bornstein, “ ‘Play’ does not mean simply running around. It is an activity that demands the acquisition of a complex set of skills... making agreements with others as equals, stepping into an imagined structure, and accepting that structure even when things don’t go your way. These are key life skills.”
It is our primary job, as parents, to help facilitate our children’s learning of these important life skills. To be of help to our children in the playground, we first need to ask ourselves the following two questions –
Some of the life skills children can learn in a playground are how to play in a group, how to include others in group play, how to win or lose with grace and how to cope with mistakes. Life skills such as the ability to stand up for oneself, resolving conflicts, and having confidence in oneself are also learnt in the playground.
Once your children master these skills, they will be able to easily navigate their way through in the playground near home as well as the playground of life.
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