“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” – O. Fred Donaldson
Why is allowing munchkins to play so important in their development?
When we allow munchkins to play, we allow them to create their own realities, to make their own decisions, and to solve their own problems. Later in life, these troubles they have overcome through play turn into being able to differentiate fiction from reality, knowledge of how to make decisions and the confidence to know when their decisions are right and when they are wrong, and problem-solving skills.
When you play with your munchkin, you are modelling social, intellectual, and relationship skills that they will follow and learn to duplicate. When a munchkin has the opportunity to play freely, they learn how to make sense of the world around them. The self confidence that munchkins develop through play has proven to help ease the transitions involved in engaging in new environments and experiences. When you encourage a child to play, you are not only encouraging their brain development (cognitive) , but also their imagination, emotional intelligence, dexterity (hand control), and physical strength.
So, you may ask, how can I encourage my munchkin to play?
– Invite your munchkin to play with you. You don’t always have to wait for them to initiate the play and ask you to join in. It is important that your munchkin knows that you enjoy play, and that you are eager to get down on their level and help fulfill the desires of their imagination.
– Set up invitations to play for your munchkin. Challenge them. Little One’s are much more capable and competent than they are often given credit for. Instead of just putting Lego blocks on the carpet, set the blocks down and ask, “Can you make me a tower of red blocks?”, “Can you build a zoo?”, “What can you make with all these blue pieces?”. Allow your munchkin to process, think, and scaffold off your invitations. The tower of red blocks may turn into a giant fire station, or it could turn into one of many towers separated by colour. The zoo you suggested building may become a village of different animals. By giving open ended suggestions, you are prompting engaging and meaningful play for your munchkin.
– Remember that your munchkin will mirror you. To them, you are a superstar and they are your biggest fan. Use this to your advantage!
Have fun unleashing your inner munchkin!