There is some debate among academics over whether play teaches children new things, or simply reinforces what they already know, but either way, it seems clear that it is important for their development.
Because we all lead such busy lives, it can be difficult to stop and let children just 'be', but it is vital as often it is when children suggest they are bored that they start to become more creative.
Indeed, some theorists believe that play actually helps to spark the imagination. The Vygotskian theory suggests that it also helps to build cognitive skills.
It is difficult to know how much time you should try and dedicate to play and often life interferes, if you have errands to run, for instance. In a paper on the subject, Christie and Wardle suggest that parents, carers and teachers should allocate between 30 minutes to an hour.
They suggest that you shouldn't worry about children getting bored as they will start to enjoy more productive, complex playtime the longer they are left to their own devices.
Indoor and outdoor activities
When you think of play activities it is normally in the context of indoor pursuits, but it is important to provide opportunities for kids to play outside too.
Just as it can help develop a child's cognitive skills, it can also boost their physical gross motor skills. Activities like climbing trees, playing football and catching and throwing a ball all help build their dexterity.
It also boosts hand-eye co-ordination, and remember, a child who is physically confidant is also more likely to thrive socially.
Again, indoor activities like dress-up and role-play can really boost a youngster's social skills, which will stand them in good stead as they grow up.
Help boost your child's play
Sometimes it is a good idea to sit with your child and help them along with an activity. Just five minutes spent explaining a task can often be enough to get your little one working away on something.
Djeco has a range of great toys which are designed to build your child's confidence, cognitive abilities and fine and gross motor skills.
Creative toys are often a good idea for helping a child to develop their concentration, which is of course a vital skill as they begin school, and beyond.
The Djeco clay models are a great way to introduce your little one to modelling by numbers.
These pre-printed boards help children follow colour and number codes to create colourful pictures that they will get real satisfaction making.
Many parents are unsure of whether they have a 'creative' child or not, but the great thing about play is that it can build that skill. Djeco's Collage set is an ideal way to introduce younger children to so-called artistic pursuits. It comes with pre-made templates and there are plenty of ready-to-stick on collage pictures which can be added to give the images some real dimension and character.
So, why wait? It's obvious play is good, fun and educational for kids, so there is no excuse not to get involved.
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