If you’re a parent, what comes to mind when you think of play? For many of us, letting our children play games freely seems less important than encouraging them to study or take part in team sports, and sometimes it seems even downright frivolous.
However, there are many ways play can promote creativity and productivity in your children’s lives – as well as your own – so it ought to be taken seriously. Consider the following reasons why play might help your children’s creativity and productivity levels:
Play helps us to find new solutions
Being able to think critically and find innovative solutions greatly increases our productivity levels, and these skills can be developed through play. Board games for kids or for teens and other puzzles that require a certain amount of problem-solving are particularly good for getting the brains of the whole family on new solutions. Although completing crosswords or puzzles may just seem like a bit of fun to your kids, if they regularly work on problem-solving while playing games, they’ll gain great skills for creatively solving real-life problems, too.
Play helps us to figure out our creative interests
Keeping a good balance of academics and hobbies is important in childhood. Play is a great way to introduce new creative hobbies (such as drawing or writing) into your kids’ lives without too much commitment and to give them the opportunity to discover their creative side without the pressure of homework or of being assessed.
Playing pretend can help kids to understand others
To help your kids understand empathy, encourage them to read and to play pretend. Reading books with imaginative scenarios and characters will help to give them an idea of the broad range of feelings and viewpoints found in other people, and playing pretend will help them to understand how it feels to be someone, or something, else.
Kids have great fun imagining that their beds are pirate ships, or rearranging their living rooms into forts and pretending they’re camping. Roleplaying also gives them the freedom to assume different personalities and see others’ viewpoints – helping them to be much more creative in their jobs and daily lives when they’re adults. If you have the imagination for it, you might like to play along with them – otherwise, equip them with costumes or props and let them run wild with their imaginations.
Play helps communication skills
Productive adults need to communicate clearly and effectively, meaning that communication is an important skill that we need for our entire lives. The earlier a child learns to communicate with a wide range of people, the easier they’ll find it to interact with others later in life. If your child is regularly playing pretend with their friends, they’ll have conversations that they’d never have in their everyday lives, and will better learn how to communicate in a variety of ways.
Taking a break is productive
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, take a break from your troubles before you continue powering through. Play, in whatever form it takes, is a great way to take a break.
Playing allows your mind to rest and relax for a while, so you’ll be much more productive when you jump back into your task. This goes for adults and kids alike – if your kids are struggling with the amount of time they spend on homework, encourage them to play a game once they’ve completed half of their work.
Children who play often become more creative adults, and creativity is an important part of a fulfilling life. Don’t be afraid to let your kids express themselves through play – it’ll help them become productive, well-rounded adults.
One of Harper’s best childhood memories is spending weekends under the trees in the backyard, playing adventure roleplay games with her closest friends. Looking back, she can see the great positive influence that play had on her imagination and creative thinking. Visit Tumblr to see more of Harper’s published work.