Last month Creating Together had a great turn-out offering parents and caregivers some information to understand why play is so important, and how to apply our learning stations to support play in our children.
We know it’s good for us – but what are some of the barriers to play, and what can we do about them?
Trying to keep your child clean can discourage children from playing, for the fear that things might get messy. Yet, kids need to get dirty to be both healthy and happy.
Children should be outside often and should be allowed to be barefoot and to get dirty, and handwashing does not necessarily need to immediately follow these activities. – Let Them Eat Dirt: How Microbes Can Make Your Child Healthier
A growing body of research tells us that getting dirty is great for immune health, activity, memory, sensory development, and so much more.
When children are out walking or playing in a green space […] the risk of getting infected with microbes that carry human diseases decreases drastically. Allow your kids to touch anything they want (except animal waste), including dirt, mud, trees, plants, insects, etc. […] Let them stay dirty for as long as the play session lasts or until it’s time to eat.Let Them Eat Dirt: How Microbes Can Make Your Child Healthier1
There aren’t many suitable spaces to accommodate children, which can make it very difficult for them to play. This is one of the great benefits of having play centres like Creating Together. Now that it’s Springtime it’s also easier to find spaces outside. Check out this listing of playgrounds in Toronto to find one near you, or even near an area you’ll be visiting friends.
Play takes time. With parents and caregivers more stressed than they’ve ever been and all the scheduled activities (school, sports, enrichment, etc) put in place for children, there’s just not enough time for unstructured play. Cancel something. Schedule free play time on your calendar.
Some play takes materials and the effort to put the materials together so children can reach for what they seek and have satisfying access to play materials. Check out this great list of activities you can facilitate with things you have on hand at home: https://handsonaswegrow.com/50-toddler-activities/
In a world of rules, programs, and structures, children can quickly feel like they don’t have permission to play freely (and safely). To get you through this, have a clear picture of what actions you would like or need your children to request permission. Ask if your requirements are based on safety and cultural needs, and be careful not to micromanage your children, while providing clear leadership.
It’s a wonder we get outside at all with television, phone calls, e-mail, and video games. Screen time use has doubled in children over the last 20 years, and studies have linked high levels of screen time with delayed development in children. It’s not a simple thing to just unplug, so try these 10 Ways to Limit Your Child’s Screen Time from Very Well Family.