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Play is for Every Age
There are so many types of play that every age can enjoy it. The best part is that playing is all about learning and having fun all at once. Kids play on their own, with their peers, with older kids, and with their parents and other adults. There are unending avenues for playing, so let’s look at a few.
Playing Without Toys
This is often the best part of play. Toddlers relish salt shakers, reaching high for things and reaching low. It doesn’t have to be an item from the toy store to make it fun. They like how things look and sound, not only their real purpose.
Pre-schoolers and kids in grade school love to make their own play environments. Using stacked up pillows from the couch to make a fort that quickly tumbles down so they set it up again to long limbed trees that they can hide under make for lots of fun. At the same time they make believe they are different characters in the forts and hide outs trying on different personalities. They learn to engage each other in different ways, try on new identities, and create story lines with elaborate sequences that build their intelligence.
Playing with Board Games and Screen Games
Sitting with a peer or a computer competitor builds skills through repetition. Whether it’s chess on a board or a screen, children learn strategies for each move that can be as exciting as the actual win. It’s great to be competitive in a positive way and want to win, but the best part is learning how to think ahead at your other player’s next move. This takes skill and ingenuity. Then there are games of chance and skill at the same time. When you play Yahtze for example, rolling a dice with letters on them to make words, you may get lucky with an easy word, but you may also expand your vocabulary in novel ways. Paper games like mazes and circling words on a page of letters improves not only your vocabulary but your spatial sense.
Attitude is Everything
It’s a great motivator to be playing against yourself not only your opponent. Beating your time in a running race, increasing your time at a video game, throwing a ball farther distances even faster, all improve skill and performance without the aim of beating out your opponent. That’s not to say that being an aggressive player isn’t a strong suit to have if you play by the rules and can be a good sport when you lose. Again, it’s your attitude every time that keeps the game in the fun zone.
Team sports add another element to play. Being able to share the focus with others and bonding with other players teaches social skills in an exciting way that presents many challenges. In fact, taking up challenges is one of the goals of team sports as it is in all kinds of play.
So encourage your kids to play away and enjoy reaching to learn more and more as their skills improve, talents grow, and imaginations soar!