When I think about childhood today, as opposed to when my children were young, I am overwhelmed by the changes. Back then, playtime meant something different than what it means today. For my children, playtime meant to go in the backyard and play with toys, use your imagination to make up games, and enjoy the outdoors or a game with friends. However, that is not the case today, with all of the current technology.

What does this mean today for families and for children? This is a big question to ponder when we think about our children growing up in today’s world. Playtime seems to be on the decline. Play is an essential part of early childhood learning; it offers and encourages social, emotional and cognitive development for our children.

Play lets our children have an opportunity to use their creativity and imagination, while also developing physical, cognitive and emotional skills. Through play, children learn to interact with and explore the world around them in a creative and typically uninhibited way. Parents who engage in play with their children, following their child’s lead, offer opportunities to see the world through their child’s eyes, creating a deeper bond with their child and instilling a sense of confidence in their child as a leader.

When my kids were little, I remember how important play was in our house. I did not know at that time that movement was a key factor in brain development, health, and wellness; however, what I did know was that if we did not get outside and move our bodies, the energy that was bottled up would come out in other, unhealthy ways.

My kids were super creative. I learned so much from their form of play. To this day, some of the images from their play are clear in my mind. One of their favorite games was an obstacle course. They set up jumps and obstacles in a very large circle and then proceeded to be “horses” jumping through the course. It was a beautiful scene to watch for so many reasons: they created it, it was imaginative, and the movement they were achieving was offering a healthy and productive method to release the energy stored in their little bodies.

Looking back, I appreciate these opportunities and know how beneficial they were for my children, as well as for me. This essential ingredient was present in my kid’s lives, helping them to grow socially, emotionally and cognitively.

When you think about your children today, what do you admire about their playtime? What are you learning about their minds, imagination, and creativity? Do you encourage them to go outside and play?

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