As a mom, I have the responsibility of making sure my children stay active. My boys are 7 and 4 – meaning they are at the age where they are discovering technology. Each of them have access to an iPad and we let them watch TV as well.
This is a sponsored post brought to you by The Genius of Play. Still, all opinions are our own.
Because I want my boys to have balance in their lives, I have to make sure they are playing in other ways just as much – if not more – than they are playing with their devices. I understand the importance of play for our kids, and how essential it is that they don’t just sit on the couch with their iPads day after day.
When I attended Type-A Parent Conference earlier this year, I met with The Genius of Play, a website created by The Toy Association to help parents learn the important benefits of play for their children. This site has a ton of information as well as game ideas! I was excited to find out about this initiative, and couldn’t wait to share it with my readers.
The Importance of Play for Children
A wealth of great information about play is shared by The Genius of Play website. They give you lots of ideas to get your children up and active – forgetting about those tablets and video games! Mixing up play time with different options for your children is vital, and here’s why….
The Genius of Play also dives into the reasoning behind the importance of play, with six benefits of play detailed on their website. Let’s discuss a few of these below, as I think they are very important pieces of play for my kids.
Probably the most obvious benefit of play for kids, getting active helps to improve a number of physical skills, including balance, coordination, and exhausting their energy. I know my two boys fall asleep faster when they have spent a day outside, riding their scooters or just running around!
When my boys get outside to play together, they are fostering their social skills. They have to negotiate what to play, take turns, communicate difficulties or problems, exhibit compassion when someone loses or gets hurt, and work together to play a game or sport. Sometimes, the two neighbor kids come over, adding more social dynamics to their play activities.
Play brings out a wealth of emotional opportunities for your children to learn and grow from. They may have to deal with fear of trying something new, like riding a skateboard or a bike without training wheels. Anger and frustration are also common in play, and may come about when another child won’t share, or your child can’t seem to master a skill.
When my kids put disconnect from tech to play, their imaginations can run wild. My sons have taken a cardboard box and made it into a rocket, car, or wagon. My oldest loves to find old clothing and create outfits and costumes, pretending he’s a firefighter or prince. With play, the creativity is limitless!
How We Balance Tech & Play in our Home
Here are some ways we keep the balance between tech and play in our home. These may not all work for your family, but I do want to share the tips in case they help!
1. Limit tech access. My children get their iPad one hour each day. Sometimes, on rainy days or when they are sick, they are allowed to have them more. Generally speaking, however, we limit their usage so the tech doesn’t consume their lives.
2. Offer a variety of ways to play. As the video above mentions, it is essential that you mix up the ways in which your kids play. This not only fosters a variety of skill development, it also helps prevent boredom! When my kids go outside, they usually ride their bike or scooter, take a walk through our neighborhood, jump rope, play with sidewalk chalk, or climb trees.
3. Inside and outside are equally important! I know I keep mentioning going out to play often, but the truth is, indoor play is just as beneficial as outdoor. Inside, my kids like to play board games, read books, play charades, play dress up, build with LEGOs, make crafts, and drive their Hotwheels everywhere. Even if it’s too cold or wet to go out, you can still achieve the benefits of play inside the home.
4. Create a boredom jar. We haven’t done this yet, but I keep saying I am going to. Get an empty jar and popsicle sticks. Write a non-tech play idea on each. When your child proclaims he’s bored, have him draw a stick from the jar and have fun doing whatever play idea is on there! Use The Genius of Play website to fill your jar with a variety of play ideas.
In our tech-driven world, it’s important that we understand how beneficial play is for our children. We must teach them that devices aren’t the only way to have fun – that they still need to get outdoors and burn off some energy!