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The Importance of Playtime
by Rebecca Garland

Many new parents are startled early on by how inactive their new child is. Brand new babies don’t really seem to do much besides eat and sleep. It is easy to become baffled by all the images one sees on television or movies with babies laughing, clapping, and just playing in general. When do babies actually play and how do you even play with them? While it is easy to get impatient and start putting the train set together yourself, try to be patient. Your child will be dying to run around with mom and dad in a blink of an eye.

The Importance of Play
Playing is important for developing children on many different levels. One of the most critical aspects of play is the pleasant involvement with parents. As a child grows older it is also very necessary for that child to learn to play independently for short periods of time and to use their imagination. This and simple number and vocabulary concepts are the most appropriate lessons to learn for school readiness. It is important to note that they can all be taught while having fun.

Play can take many forms. This makes a great deal of sense to parents who are suddenly aware of how much work it can be to entertain an active infant and how difficult it can be to focus on having fun and not scolding a rambunctious toddler. Regardless of whether play is outside or in, quiet or rowdy, it is simply important to take time for fun and enjoy the time with your child.

Early Play
With a newborn baby, there is not a lot of opportunity for fun and games. They tend to sleep quite a bit for the first few weeks. But when the baby wakes up and becomes aware of his surroundings, there are many games to play. Young infants may not have much control of their facial expressions, but they can still benefit and even learn from playing with parents. Singing songs, playing peek-a-boo and taking baby on tours of everything is wonderful for parent and child.

Young babies also must spend time on their stomachs to work their neck and back muscles. This can be frustrating for the young one, but parents can make it more fun by singing silly songs or showing baby interesting objects. Remember to talk to your baby about everything as you are playing. Show your baby the scenes from the windows or look at pictures on the wall. Vocabulary is building from day one, and the only way to truly learn words is to hear trusted adults speak them.

Toddler Play
Toddlers are a very special breed. They are simply exhausting in their quest to discover everything both safe and not. This is the age that many parents discover the need for discipline and a vacation. Try hard not to stifle the young explorer, however. Making a mess is part of learning, and there is no way to figure out what is at the bottom of the drawer unless the rest of the contents are on the floor.

You will have years of a clean house when your children are gone; enjoy this time without worrying too much about spilled juice or ketchup as finger paint. Play chase, throw balls, jump up and down, dance, and sing. Take your big boy or girl everywhere that allows young people. There are so many interesting things to learn and see. It is the parent’s job to find these opportunities so that the child may relish the experience.

Kid Play

When a child reaches a certain age, they seem to be almost self sufficient in their playtime. Television, video games, and the computer may occupy much of their free time, but parents should set limits on this. Encourage active play, especially outdoors, and fight the temptation to sit back and watch. Kids are always thrilled when Dad will shoot a few baskets and Mom will swing on the swing set. Again, there will be years of time looking back on their childhood, don’t waste opportunities reading the paper or folding laundry.

All manners of play are important. Puzzles and coloring are just as important to having a good time and building a foundation for learning as hide and seek and board games. Riding bikes and taking walks can be opportunities to bond with your children and demonstrate the importance of quality time together. Childhood is so fleeting. Relish every moment of it as actively as possible.

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