When we hear the word "Play", the word "Fun" follows but there is more than that. It is through play that much of children’s early learning is achieved.
I must admit, I let my kids play with smartphones. But aside from games I mostly install educational applications on my phone, in fact, that's how my eldest learned his Alphabet.
Their toys aren't fancy in fact some of them aren't really toys like empty ice cream container, Jollibee bucket, papers and a lot more. We make the most out of what we have. My eldest who is 5 years old would build a city using this pieces of materials. They also have building blocks, toy cars, story books and crayons.
Play indeed is important to the Holistic Health of Children. How?
Play Develops Physical Development/ Motor Skills:
Fine motor skills are small movements like picking up small objects then stacking up Lego's or building blocks into towers.
Athena showing off her tall building blocks tower
Gross motor skills are bigger movements like rolling over, jumping and running around.
Tristan and Athena enjoying the outdoors, playing at the playground and running free.
All these activities are very helpful in developing control and coordination of muscles that are needed to achieve their everyday tasks.
Play Develops Cognitive Skills:
Play often involves trial and error, problem solving, classifying and recognizing objects.
Athena having fun and learning at the same time. She's able to identify shapes after several attempt to shoot each pieces on their perspective holes.
She's also able to identify colors as we stack the building blocks into single colored towers
Concept of height is also learned as we build tall and short towers out of building blocks.
Play Develops Social, Language, Emotional Skills and Builds Imagination
Through play, children develop their social skills like taking turns, waiting sharing and so on.
As for my kids since they are in different age group, they have different play types. Kuya Tristan being the eldest and is already attending Kinder, his social skill has already been established but there are still room for development. Athena's social skill is yet to be developed her type of play is in between parallel and associative play. Brianna on the other hand does solitary play and gets entertained as her older siblings are playing. Once in a while they also get play dates whenever they visit or their cousins visit us.
On the other hand teaching kids on how to handle their emotions could be tough, there comes to a point where they get physical pushing and hitting each other. I would always remind them not to hurt each other or tell Tristan whenever Athena pushes him or gets his toy rather than getting back at her and yelling at her sister. Every child has their own way of expressing their emotions and it is our duty as parents to correct it if it done negatively.
Through play children can also express their creativity. From coloring and scribbling on an empty piece of paper or just using anything to play with.
Tristan showing off the city he built using building blocks
Children's imagination also comes out whenever they play pretend. Tristan would often watch me cook or wash the dishes then later on tries to imitate me. He would also assign each cartoon character to each of us, like Athena being Sofia the First, Brianna as Princess Amber and him as Prince James. Surprisingly Athena would also act like one.
Athena dressed up as Sofia the First with it's Amulet and pretending like talking to someone on her toy telephone.
"Play is a natural state of childhood" - Hirsch-Pasek
Allow our children to play because aside from the pleasure they get, it's their way of learning and develop their skills for their Holistic well being. They should have free play where they get to express what they want and directed play where you play along with them. But either way we as parents should always be there, watching over them because safety should always comes first.