Play lays a foundation
for lifelong wellness
All types of play build skills
WRITTEN BY ANNE GEORGPHOTOGRAPHED BY KELSY NIELSON
Who will be the princess and who willbe the pony? How will we get across thislava to safety? In a make-believe world,those kinds of big, creative decisionsbuild healthy bodies and minds.
Children learn to build and explore theirworld and their relationships with others.
“Children are usually told to brush
their teeth and go to school, where to sit,
which clothes to wear and when to go
to bed,” says Laura Crawford, program
facilitator with Alberta Health Services’
Early Childhood program. “Play lets
them take the lead. It helps them balance
those daily routines and unwind by
When kids lead play, they develop
self-esteem and confidence. They learn
to be creative and solve problems; their
language skills grow. And when they
name objects and describe their feelings,
they make vital brain-cell connections
that support learning and understanding.
Children play in different ways.
Active play is running, jumping,kicking, throwing and catching. It giveschildren the chance to explore how theirbody moves, and move in increasinglycomplex ways. Pretend play is usingimagination and acting out scenes andsituations. It lays the foundation forlanguage, literacy and problem-solving.
Creative play is making arts and crafts,building sandcastles and more. It letschildren use their hands and minds tocreate. And it helps them learn to expressthemselves and tune their fine motorskills. Play can also provide a valuableemotional release. Children may notalways have the words to express theirfeelings, but they can express themby playing a role, drawing a pictureor telling a story. By playing together,kids learn to empathize with othersand understand the give-and-take ofrelationships.
“The play experience helps childrento broaden their understanding of theworld. They learn how to get along withothers, share, make friends, take turnsand express themselves and their ideas,”Crawford says.
“Play is the foundation on whichchildren build lifelong skills and positiverelationships with others and themselves.They need to play every day.” |a
PARENTS CAN PLAY, TOO
When parents and caring adults playwith children, kids feel important andloved. A strong, stable bond with acaring adult can also help to lay thefoundation for healthy growth anddevelopment.
Here are five simple tips to supportall types of play:
1. Play every day. Set aside time toplay together
2. Children will show you what theywant to do; follow their lead
3. Play with children on their level.When adults participate,children’s self-esteem and
4. Notice their play, talk about itand encourage them;encouragement improveschildren’s self-esteem and
5. Show your kids how to play safelyto help them prevent injuries.
Play helps children
of the world