What do most successful business people, happy children, and Nobel Laureates have in common? They love to play and understand that it is an important part of learning.
According to Beverly Anderson, Executive Director of Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, and in Oak Creek and West Allis/Wauwatosa, “Research has shown that play is FUNdamental to living a healthy and productive life. It positively impacts a person’s physical, social, intellectual, and emotional development.”
Anderson stresses that, although play is hard to define because each of us enjoys different things, it is an extremely important part of our lives.
“Play is not only a state of mind, it is also a state of body, emotion, and spirit,” says Anderson. “Yet, as adults in a work-obsessed society, it is something we often eliminate from our daily ‘to-do’ list.”
Anderson says the benefits of play are so impressive that parents should incorporate some form of “creative” play into their children’s lives every day. She adds that children who regularly participate in “creative” play have better problem-solving and adaptive abilities. They learn how to manage and transform their “negative” emotions and experiences and are supercharged for learning.
Inspiring Creative Play
Anderson says one way you can inspire creative play is by reducing the control you exert over play time.
“Provide your children with a creative environment, and then sit back and allow them to be spontaneous and become creative spirits,” says Anderson.
“Tell them that it is okay to not always have the right answer to a problem as long as the answer they provide is innovative and shows some thought.”
Anderson says it is also important to stress to your children that they should use their creative energy to its fullest and always see a project to completion, rather than give up on it half-way through.
Creative Games Worth Trying
Anderson suggests having children build a project, such as a robot, with things from around the house. This way you can use parts that move, make noise, and have unique shapes. The robot also has no specified requirements, so however it is made, it is right.
Another idea is to start a story and have each of your children add onto it.
Still one more idea is to provide your children with props and have them imitate the things, people, animals, and machines they see in the world.
Things That Prevent Creative Play
Anderson says there are a number of things that are currently preventing children from participating in creative play. They include: standardized testing and reduced recess time at school and too many sedentary hours at home watching TV and playing on computers and video games where prepackaged scripts limit a child’s imagination. Electronic toys are also reducing children’s creative thought processes, and our rushed, overscheduled lives are not promoting “creative” play.
Tips to Enhance Your Children’s Creative Play Time
Reduce or eliminate screen time: Turn off the TVs, smart phones, computers, and video games. Encourage reading and make-believe play to inspire your children’s inner creativity.
Choose simple toys: Your children’s imagination is the engine of healthy play. Think about when you were a child. What were some of your favorite things to play with? A large box, a large ball, sand, and stuffed animals can all be excellent stimulants for “creative” play.
Encourage outdoor adventures: Try to get outdoors every day, so your children can run, climb, find secret hiding places, and dream up wonderful adventures.
Let your children’s creativity soar: Avoid interrupting or taking over play but be available as needed. Let children know their play is important.
Ebenezer Child Care Centers is a not-for-profit, locally based agency committed to providing early childhood programs from the heart. The agency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere; individualized, nurturing care; and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage.
Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers free Parenting Talks and other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.
The agency has locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, and in Oak Creek and West Allis/Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information, please call 414-643-5070.