Study and Play Balance for Kids: Why is Playing so Important?
We are all aware about the significance of work-life balance for adults, but what about kids and their study-play balance? Is there such a thing as too much playing for a 5-year-old kid? Apparently, a number of studies show that nowadays kids are playing less and less and this trend has been going on for decades. For parents this should sound as pretty bad news because playing is a crucial part of children’s life – that’s how kids learn and discover the world. Games stimulate kids’ creativity, improve memory and help to cope with stress. Lack of playing activities, on the other hand, can lead to a number of psychological issues such as increased anxiety levels and depression.
According to the report “The Importance of Play” by Dr David Whitebread from University of Cambridge, there are five different types of play, all of which should be incorporated into children’s life to ensure healthy brain and body development.
• Physical play
Running, ball play, skipping – all kinds of play that involve physical exercise are important for building children’s strength as well as social skills.
• Play with objects
This type of play is important for developing sensory and motor skills. Playing with dolls, mascots, LEGO or sometimes even random objects such as oranges or socks helps kids to discover the world in their own unique way.
• Symbolic play
Symbolic play includes different kinds of visual activities (e.g. drawing and making collages), music and even language play. Unsurprisingly, this type of play has a direct effect on kids’ educational success. Different kinds of language games, for instance, improve children’s early literacy.
• Socio-dramatic play
Various kind of pretend games from simple “I am a teacher, you are a student” to “House is the Moon Kingdom today” develop kids’ imagination and deductive reasoning.
• Games with rules
While playing games and following certain rules (even if they are very easy) kids learn how to help each other, take turns and lots of other social skills.
We are well aware that nowadays kids don’t do outside activities as much as they used to a few decades ago, but that’s not the only problem. As a matter of fact, the study by The Genius of Play found that almost 70 percent of five through eight-year-olds are not getting the recommended amount of pretend play which is crucial when it comes to emotional development.
What is also important to realize is that playing shouldn’t be restricted to a few hours a day when kids go to the playground for a recess or when other organized playing activity takes place. In fact, studying can also become some kind of a game. Young kids can study math using toys and learn how to write while playing funny language games.
“Play is not a specific activity, it’s an approach to learning, an engaged, fun, curious way of discovering your world,” suggests Dr. Tamis-LeMonda and, honestly, it could not be said better. The secret to study – play balance for kids is that study and play should be interconnected as much as possible. It is extremely important to introduce play into kids’ school as well as home life. All activities, including dull ones (say, cleaning or, worse, brushing teeth) can be made fun with a little extra effort from parents and teachers. Let’s help children have a good time and, who knows, maybe we will have a little bit of fun with them as well? After all, adults can also enjoy a good old match of tic-tac-toe.