A wise saying goes, all work and no play make Jack a dull boy. It is very easy to underestimate the power and importance of a childs play time. Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that many parents and guardians are so obsessed with schoolwork and shaping their children's future through academics that they forget play is equally important. Their perception about a smart, bright and focused child is one who shows unquestionable interest in books as opposed to toys. Little do they know that play plays a significant role in the creativity and brilliance of a child (Busby, 1994).
Why Is Play Therapy Important?
The process of playing equips children with essential communication and interaction skills. The child gets an opportunity to interact with friends and share ideas. Simple as that may sound, it goes a long way in improving physical, social, and cognitive skills. Children who grow up segregated from others lead a very lonely and timid life. Such children find it difficult to express themselves among others and as a result they downplay their creative and cognitive skills. During play, children get a chance to think, innovate, negotiate, fight, reconcile, and take risks with others. The knowledge of right and wrong is also enhanced during play.
However, the fact that they are still children, there should be an adult nearby to monitor and oversee the whole process. Be it teachers, parents, guardians, or elder siblings, they should do it gently so as not to disrespect the children when playing. Mistakes should be corrected gently and not scolded as it can interfere with the perspective of the child towards playing and the last thing you want is a frightened child who is afraid to make mistakes. Furthermore, it is through these mistakes that children learn (Koralek, 2017).
Three Key Types of Play Therapy
Although people tend to generalize the act of children's play, there are different kinds of play. Just because they do not understand these kinds, people assume that play is play. Consequently, you find that children get used to one type of game at the expense of others. They miss out on the experience of others so much that they grow up lacking some critical life skills. As a parent, guardian or teacher, it is imperative to be familiar with these types to ensure that your kid is provided with the adequate opportunity and materials for all play types (Senanayake, 2009). Below are examples of three types of play.
Large Motor Play
The first category is large-motor play; this type is mainly affiliated with boys as opposed to girls. It involves climbing, running, jumping, and skipping. All these events have one thing in common; they engage the body a lot. The body movements during this play help develop the child coordination skill as well as put the child's body in shape ("Twelve Key Types of Play", 2017).
Make Believe Play
The second type of play is make-believe play. In this play, children put themselves in a hypothetical situation and react to it. Needless to say, it is more psychological than physical. Make-believe plays to improve the child's problem-solving skills and boosts their imagination. It presents them with an opportunity to express their creativity and innovation. In this play, anything is allowed as it sprouts from imagination and as such tends to differ from one child to another ("Twelve Key Types of Play'', 2017).
Play and Language Development
The third type is language play. Just like the name suggests, this type of game is important in improving the language skills of a child. It is a word game that adds to their vocabulary, grammar, and simple sentence construction. Other verbal speaking skills such as intonation, musicality, and stress are improved as well ("Twelve Key Types of Play", 2017).
Importance of Play Therapy
According to Morrison's text, the play is an important treatment for children with autism. Such play that Morrison vouches for involves music and art. Autism slows the cognitive skills of children as well as spectrum delays. Due to this disability, such children feel out of context and keep to themselves most of the time. As much as their parents try to make them feel wanted and standard, it is never easy for them. Their self-esteem and self-value are significantly low, and they need more than their parents' affection to boost (Koukourikos, Tzeha, Pantelidou, & Tsaloglidou, 2015).
Play therapy helps reach such children physically and emotionally. They are unique because the ultimate goal is not only to have fun but also to be there for these kids. Having company around makes them feel accepted in the society, and they reciprocate by paying attention and socializing. During these play therapies, the disabled children are challenged to look beyond their disabilities and be part of the community once again. Play therapies also provide physical exercises to the children and help keep them in shape. When children get in groups during play sessions, they share ideas, improve each other's creative skills and most importantly get to share time with their peers (Vlaicu, 2014).
Play therapies should be well coordinated and instructed by a responsible adult. Since playing is a mode of responding to the experiences and environment around children, the environment should be tailor-made for play therapy.
Busby, J. (1994). The Importance of Free Play: A Research Study of Free Play Time in aPlayground. Early Years, 15(1), 54-58. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0957514940150109
Koralek, D. (2017). Playing To Get Smart. Spotlight on Play. Retrieved 1 June 2017, from http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/Play/Spotlight%20on%20Play_2.pdf
Koukourikos, K., Tzeha, L., Pantelidou, P., & Tsaloglidou, A. (2015). The Importance of Play during Hospitalization of Children. Materia Socio Medica, 27(6), 438. http://dx.doi.org/10.5455/msm.2015.27.438-441
Senanayake, M. (2009). Play: have we forgotten its importance? Sri Lanka Journal of Child Health, 30(3). http://dx.doi.org/10.4038/sljch.v30i3.845
Twelve Key Types of Play. (2017). Creating a Playful Kindergarten. Retrieved 1 June 2017, from http://classroom.tis.edu.mo/pk/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2015/09/kindergarten_report.pdf
VLAICU, C. (2014). The Importance of Role Play for Children's Development of Socio-Emotional Competencies. Logos Universality Mentality Education Novelty: Social Sciences, III (1), 157-167. http://dx.doi.org/10.18662/lumenss.2014.0301.14
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