The Importance of Play
Play is children’s way of being part of the world they live in. Fathers can support play by giving their children chances to play and by being involved with their play.
PLAY HELPS CHILDREN
- Bond with their parents and creates an opportunity to build the parent-child relationship.
- Explore and understand their environment.
- Develop their brains: using all their senses and growing their ability to think.
- Learn what they can do with their bodies: coordination, balance, and strength.
- Learn and practice new skills: paying attention, planning, using tools.
- Develop social skills: learning how to get along with other people.
- Learn about life: the lessons of play are the lessons of life for a child.
- Practice emotion regulation: deal with emotions due to success and frustrations.
- Have a good time: play helps make children’s lives enjoyable and happy.
MANY TYPES OF PLAY
There’s more to play than toys and games.
- Hands-on exploring and experimenting with real, everyday objects.
- Arts and crafts: drawing, colouring, pasting, painting, playing with playdough or clay.
- Music play: singing, dancing, and moving to music.
- Nature play: digging in the dirt, collecting leaves and rocks, hikes in the woods.
- Physical play: running, jumping, climbing, wrestling.
- Social play: make believe and pretend play, role modeling.
DAD’S ROLE IN PLAY
- Observer/companion: You are nearby and available, but not directly involved in what your child is doing. You may be watching, cheering them on, or doing things side-by-side.
- Entertainer: You do things that interest and excite your child. Read a story with a silly voice or put on a puppet show.
- Teacher: You can give instructions about how to play. You can also lead by following their choices and ideas. The idea is to help without taking over.
- Playmate: You are playing with your children and doing what they want. Sometimes this means being the jungle gym or enjoying a tea party.
HOW TO PLAY WELL
- Provide a place for children to play safely and freely.
- Give your children toys and people to have fun with.
- Have toys that are suitable to your children’s age and ability.
- Play with your children: watch what your children do and follow their lead, and use their actions, words and expressions as your guide.
- If you see something you like when your child is playing, make sure to say it to them!
- Give your children some time to play on their own.
- Let your children have fun!
IDEAS FOR HOW TO PLAY
- Build a spaceship and fly to the moon! You can use items around your house, including cardboard boxes, markers and pillows.
- Learn a new dance: Move to the music, make a dance together, or put on a talent show.
- Make your kitchen into a science experiment: Create slime or try other experiments using everyday items.
- Make a fort: Everyone loves to escape to a new world for a few hours!
- Take the lead of what your child wants to do – they are the best source for ideas of what they find fun!