The Importance of Play – March 2013

What do most entrepreneurs, well-adjusted children, and Nobel Laureates have in common? They have a love for play and incorporate it into their daily routines throughout their lives.

According to Beverly Anderson, Executive Director of Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations in Milwaukee, Mequon, Greenfield, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa, “Research has shown that play is more than just fun and games. 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 enjoy 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 every day of childhood should incorporate some sort of “creative” play in to it. She adds that children who participate in “creative” play daily have better problem-solving and adaptive abilities. They learn how to manage and transform their “negative” emotions and experiences and are supercharged for learning.

 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, 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. Finally, 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 TV, 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 the most enjoyable things you played with? A large box, a large ball, sand, and stuffed animals all can 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 your children know their play is important.

 Ebenezer Child Care Centers, Inc. will be hosting a FREE Family Fun Night on “The Value of Play” on Thursday, March 14, from 5-6:30 p.m. at their downtown location at 340 West St. Paul Avenue. Play is a means by which children develop their physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and moral capacities. It is a means of creating and preserving friendships. It is uniquely suited for high-level reasoning, insightful problem solving, and all sorts of creative endeavors! Come to this Family Fun Night to learn more about the value of play as you explore with water toys in the sensory table, create with finger paint, and construct with blocks. In addition to the activities, you will have the opportunity to enjoy dinner on us! Registration is required in advance. Please call 414-643-5070 to register.