Obviously, children love to play. It’s an inborn instinct. They will play with anything they can get their hands on. But it’s up to us to make sure that what they can access is materials that will help their development. Because play is not just harmless fun….it’s vital work that enables children to build brain connections and understand the world they’re born into.
Imagination development is vital for a child’s wellbeing. Not only does it allow them to process and understand the events of their daily lives, but to dream of other possibilities and discover their identity.
It also develops creativity, builds resilience and promotes vital problem-solving skills, which are pretty important in later life!
And it can enhance empathy and social skills as well.
Children need fun and laughter. Tickles, physical games, funny stories and their own random sense of humour that can make a joke or game out of anything. That’s how play operates – everything becomes a game or something fun to explore!
Sensory play is also vital. Children love to get messy! This is actually a side-effect of their exploration of their environment – they don’t set out to do it on purpose, it’s just that everything is so exciting when they are just discovering it for the first time!
Sensory play is vital for brain development because at the start of life, a baby has no concept of himself as a separate being. The first voyage of discovery he embarks on is engaging with the physical world. Children need first, as a baseline, to develop a spatial awareness of their physical environment – how it tastes, feels, sounds, as well as looks like, before they can comprehend more advanced concepts.
Nurture the Soul
I personally also believe that children need natural and beautiful materials around them in order to nurture their souls. Soul development is often completely overlooked when caring for children. By ‘soul’, I mean not just a spiritual awareness of something higher outside oneself, that may not be visible to the human eye, but an ability to find a place deep inside oneself where one can find inner peace…. a quiet inner ‘zone’ one can enter when absorbed in a quiet, creative activity… the capacity to just sit and ‘be’…
And finally, I find it helps enormously if, as an adult, you can still retain a playful spirit! After all, you’re never too old to play….