You might be asking yourself, “What is the best gift for kids this holiday season?” Well, this season and every season, it is “The gift of play!” Whether that be free play, block play, exploratory play, constructive play, creative play, or imaginative play. The benefits of play for children are undeniable.
Rather than continuing the vicious cycle of constant entertainment and over-scheduling, let’s give our children independence, time for play, and creativity.
Explore these tips on how to give the Best gift For Kids.
- Make play a priority and allow downtime so kids can just be kids. It might be necessary to say no to some events, activities, or outings. We do not suggest that you say “no” to all the fun activities but rather find a balance making open-ended play a priority.
- Schedule it if you find it difficult to set aside the time. It is just as important as the music, art, or dance lessons.
- Give space and independence. It is vital to children’s social-emotional development that they learn to negotiate and work things out independently. They may argue, and that is OK. Let them figure it out, as long it is not harmful. During this independence, they learn to experiment and take risks. Furthermore, kids learn how to win and lose in a safe environment.
- Allow for boredom. Boredom breeds imagination and creativity. If we feel the need to fill every moment of our children’s days with activities, they will not learn patience, perseverance, or self-control.
- When necessary, use lead-in activities to get them started. For example, have them create a shopping list, and then they can set up a grocery store and go shopping. Once you help them start the list, step back, and let them build and engage in their imaginary world. Kid’s wooden blocks are great for creating imaginary settings, such as grocery shelves from which to shop.
- There are plenty of benefits of playing with your child, so engage in play, but not too much. They need time to play on their own. Create those blocks of time by being busy with a task and not being available.
We know the importance of playtime and that it is critical for childhood development. So why is it that society wants to rob our children of the benefits of play? Is it that they do not see the benefits of learning through play. Or is it the pressure of keeping up with expectations and testing? As parents, we must protect free play for children even when it is not easy.
It may be easier to give a child a tablet or put them in front of the TV rather than listen to them argue or whine about being bored. Or how about the mess play leaves in its wake? Or how loud the noise can get when kids are having fun!
Childhood is a short season, so we need to let them be kids for as long as possible. Wouldn’t you rather give the best gift for kids now, knowing that your children will be better off because you allowed them to play?