How do children play nowadays

How play can promote children's development

When your child plays, your child prepares for life, because in the process they acquire essential competencies, knowledge and skills of their own accord. These include, for example, self-confidence, creativity, thinking skills / strategic thinking, willingness to take responsibility, a sense of community, communication, empathy, helpfulness, ability to deal with conflict, behavior in accordance with the rules and dealing with failures or disappointed expectations.

When playing with other children, for example, it is important to develop understanding for one another, to represent one's own point of view and to find compromises. Movement and physical activity can only be enjoyed if children have sufficient opportunities to play outside their own four walls. In the fresh air, not only the muscles are trained, but also, for example, the cardiovascular system and the respiratory organs.

In addition, the child often develops personal learning strategies while playing - a good basis for the lifelong learning required in many areas today!

In keeping with this fundamental importance, children around the world see play as a basic need. For them it is as important as eating, drinking or sleeping. Seen in this way, play can be seen as "food for the soul" and is also good for parents. Let yourself be inspired by your child and experience happy and carefree moments together while playing! For example, when was the last time you tried to balance? Is there still a rematch for the last race? Maybe there is still a swing free in the playground.

Play and the role of parents

Create enough space and time to play

One of your main tasks as parents is to create age-appropriate opportunities and framework conditions for your children to play, both spatially and temporally! This can also include child safety in mind when designing the home. When parents approach their children's 'height level', they usually quickly recognize possible risks and sources of danger in their own four walls. If you want to get specific tips and suggestions on this topic, you will find extensive information on the website of the Federal Center for Health Education:

Playing children often cause clutter or chaos in the home. Small children have important experiences with everyday objects when they are allowed to clear drawers or cupboards. Larger ones spread building blocks or dolls clothes on the floor and practice building caves. Parents should not completely prevent this, but at the same time clearly define their personal boundaries (e.g. which rooms are free of toys). Involve your children in tidying up at an early stage, although exceptions should be allowed: For example, an artistically built tower can sometimes be left standing and maybe built on the next day.

As far as possible, the children's room should offer enough space for the children to move about in addition to the bed, cupboards / shelves as well as table and chairs and be designed in such a way that different play areas are created (e.g. dolls and kitchen areas). In this way, several children can play at the same time in one room. A cozy resting corner serves as a retreat for the youngsters when they are tired, angry or sad. The toys should be housed in such a way that everything has its place and is easily accessible by the children themselves.

The opportunities to play in nature are just as important. Those who do not live in the country can bring their children closer to forest and meadow experiences on bike tours and excursions in the area. A little tip: don't forget to change your clothes in case a stream is nearby!

Parents are also responsible for having enough time to play. Experts recommend a maximum of one or two fixed appointments per week for regular leisure or club activities for children.

Select suitable toys

When choosing a toy, it is fundamentally important that it should suit your child's level of development. Make sure that your child is neither under nor overburdened. In this sense, age information, which is given on many toys, can provide a rough indication.

For example, parents who are concerned about suitable toys for their child can compile a list of their interests. It can also be helpful to observe what your child likes to play with when they visit friends. And of course you can just ask your offspring what they like to play. Is the child a little researcher and tinkerer? Then maybe an experiment kit is on his wish list. Does it paint and do handicrafts particularly often? Perhaps you will give your child a creative set for their birthday. Or does it love imaginative role play? Then it is very likely that they will be happy about utensils for dressing up or finger puppets.

Basically, the rule is to choose from the wide range of toys that match your child's individual strengths, can be used in as many ways as possible and stimulate creativity. This is how the child’s curiosity is aroused in the game and the spirit of discovery is encouraged. On this basis, the all-important free play of the children can unfold as they please.

The approach is different with the numerous educational games that are available on the market. As a rule, these are not holistic, but aim to promote specific skills. They are often used to prepare children for the demands of schooling. When buying, you should take a very careful look here, so that the material fits your child's special needs and makes playing with it really fun!

In general, the rules of thumb “less is more” and “quality over quantity” also apply to children's toys. If you are looking for orientation in the jungle of offers, you can use the “spiel gut” label, for example. For more than 50 years, the “spiel gut” working committee for children's games + toys has been awarding products from an educational point of view. The jury is made up of 40 volunteer experts from a wide variety of disciplines. You can find more information on this at Spiel gut.

Giving children introductions and explanations

When children have new toys or want to learn new things, parents may need to give them 'start-up help' (for example by providing explanations or demonstrations). In this case, you should allow enough time to show the child step by step what to do. Since children like to observe and imitate, the words are less important. These can even disturb the child's concentration! If explanations are necessary, you should speak slowly, use clear language and use unambiguous names for objects. It is also particularly important to be a good listener when the child is speaking!

Parents as "suppliers" of suggestions and as players

Even if children actually like to choose what they want to play for themselves, small impulses or suggestions from parents are sometimes helpful.

Above all, playing together has a positive effect on the parent-child bond. Especially if you are not acting as an entertainer or if you are 'working through' a ready-made game program with your children. Instead, let yourself be involved in the rules of the game of your children, take your time, really get involved and enjoy the game experiences together!

Often times, fathers and mothers play with their children in very different ways. Research results show that men mostly prefer physical activities while playing and are responsible, for example, for wild romps and new challenges. Experience has shown that mothers, on the other hand, like to give their offspring a sense of achievement while playing or cover the creative areas of play. Regardless of how your roles are assigned personally, these different focuses are advantageous for the children, because they significantly increase the chances of learning!

Source:Ebook Promoting development through games p. 12 ff.

The adoption of this text is done with kind permission.


Christian Trenkel, M.A. GmbH
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