By Paulyne L. Fermin
Play is essential to the growth of young children. It used to be that I would find my daughter sitting on her trolly bag at dismissal time. Now that she’s in grade two, I often have to look for her in the gym where she is running around with her friends. It’s good to see her active, socializing and happy.
The Importance of Free Play
Through playing, kids learn how to interact with the world around them. It develops their cognition, imagination,
dexterity, social and emotional skills. As a grade school parent, I make sure that there is a good balance between
academic time and playtime. There is learning in both and to a certain extent, maybe more in the latter.
When children are left to explore and dictate their activities without adult interference, they learn to be independent
and creative. Just the other day, I saw my daughter drawing bills on paper and cutting them carefully.
“I’ll give my friends paper money so we can pretend to buy and sell in the market during recess time, Mom. I asked my friend to draw fruits and vegetables.” It amazes me that even if she has so many toys, she still chose to make her own and planned her playtime,too.
Playing with the neighbors out on the streets was the norm in my childhood days. Now moms have to set up dates so our girls can get together. I did this with my boy when he was younger and I’m doing it now with my daughter. I find this essential because it forges deeper friendships among the kids as well as the parents and provides for more interaction outside the school. We normally host pool parties in our home (big colorful inflatables double the fun!)
followed by an afternoon of free play. I’ve also acted as chaperone on movie dates. Now we are planning on a trip to a sweets museum coupled with a visit to a virtual reality play store.
All in the Family
If there’s one thing I dislike hearing, it’s when my kids (a seven-year old and a teen) say they are bored. And since both are old enough to understand, I tell them that it’s not my role to amuse them. They should think of ways to make good use of their own time. So, I see my daughter playing with her dolls, dressing them in different attires and making a story about the scenario. When I have free time, I join her. We make up names for dolls, have them compete in fashion shows and mix and match flavors while playing with her ice cream truck. I let her lead and give me instructions. These are very precious moments where we bond as parent and child. On rainy days, big brother engages her in rounds of Scrabble. Meanwhile Dad likes to test her skills in a game he calls Math Hotshot (which they normally do when I’m shopping).
R’s favorite playmate though is her paternal grandmother Nanay Ester. They play I Spy and jak en poy (rock, paper, scissors) anywhere and everywhere all the time arguing why they can’t put down their weapons in cadence! Haha!
So parents, let’s allow our kids to create their own fun by themselves, with friends or with us. They will be so much better at using their hands, expanding their minds and establishing their identities.
Have a great PLAY DAY Saturday and a big HAPPY GRANDPARENTS DAY to all the wonderful Lolos and Lolas!!!