By SARAH ABRAHAM-OWOSENI
It touches me a lot. Play holds a special place in my heart and I could literally spend hours talking and writing about play and children. All over the world, times have changed and children are stressed. Children’s right to childhood experiences keeps being snatched away from them and they are being forced to grow up so fast. Lots of school work, tests, early rising hours and to top it all, there’s a reduction in quality play.
In some parts of the world, there is a rat race led by parents; parents who want to see their children at the top of the class by all means. There’s a meaningless race to learn (I mean cram by rote learning) counting of numbers, writing and reading the alphabet. This has often pushed parents and schools into a cold war. Of what essence is 1, 2, 3 when a child cannot really express herself?
Parents! Schools! Governments! Everyone! Pleaseeeeeeeeee take a chill pill and let the children play.
The world of a child is entirely different from that of an adult. Children are still growing and they require the right environment for this. I remember coming across a 3 year old that had been so conditioned to writing and in order not to disturb his siblings, he would constantly ask for paper and pencil just to write the alphabet and numbers. Like me, you may have come across children like that or parents who derive pleasure in bragging about their children.
“My child can write 1 – 1 zillion” “My 2year old can write A – Z”
Please stop it today. It is totally unnatural. A 3 year old should be deriving pleasure in pretend play (assuming an object to be a real life object) or dramatic play.
Question: What is the essence of a child being able to count 1-1000 without being able to identify number 5 or pick up 5 items? Do you get it?
A more ideal scenario would be a child who is playing with building blocks and he can tell the number of blocks he used to build his truck.
The world of play is often so undermined whereas play is the work of children. It is actually what they find enjoyable.
If the society understood what could be achieved in play, maybe, just maybe we would pay more attention to it. Children often engage in:
- Parallel play: Involves children playing side by side each other without interacting
- Object play: Includes playing with toys such as building blocks, cars, dolls, food etc to explore them
- Dramatic play: this refers to acting real-life situations with assigned roles. In this type of play, a lot of language development occurs as children interact with each other.
- Physical play: Play involving fine and gross motor skills
- Outdoor play: Involves children exploring and engaging with nature outdoor
- Solitary play: playing alone and exploring the environment
- Group play: Playing nicely with other children
- Social play: Play involving a set of laid down rules
- Imaginative play: Using out-of-the-world scenarios and situations
In play, children learn without stress. Play gives the opportunity to learn new words. During dramatic play, children pick up words from one another. Most words children speak are learnt unintentionally. Children who are allowed to share with one another learn kindness. Research shows that children who play actively are less likely to become obese. They also develop better coordination and balance in bodily movements. Best of all, children learn to think, remember, reason and pay attention which is the cause of the rat race.
Let the children play.
Let’s see in the comment section below 😊
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Sarah Abraham-Owoseni is an Early Childhood Educator and Parenting Coach. She helps parents raise children with core skills and godly values to form a strong foundation for life. She is the Children Development Director at Young Breeds Children and Youth Development Centre which houses Young Breeds Development Initiative and Young Breeds Schools where she serves as the co-founder and Centre Director