Summer 2017 Newsletter
Looking for low cost or free activities to take your kids to this summer? Check out the following resources:
- http://www.twincitiesfrugalmom.com/deals-events- calendar/
Learning Through Play (Adapted from AOTA.ORG)
The act of playing is an important tool that influences a child’s life. The primary goals of childhood are to grow, learn, and play. It is often through play that children learn to make sense of the world around them. It is a child’s “job” or “occupation” to play to develop physical coordination, emotional maturity, social skills to interact with other children, and self-confidence to try new experiences and explore new environments.
What Can Parents and Families Do?
- Encourage sensory rich play by using balls, sand and water toys, slides, swings, finger paints, and magnets. During sensory play, children use their senses to incorporate smell, touch, sound, vision, and movement.
- Encourage manipulative play, such as using play dough, LEGOs, and board games. Toys such as puzzles, pegboards, beads, and lacing cards help improve the child’s eye-hand coordination and dexterity.
- Promote imaginative or pretend play with things like dolls and stuffed animals, toy furniture, puppets, and telephones. Pretend play encourages creativity and role playing and provides an opportunity to rehearse social skills.
- Choose toys that are appropriate to the child’s age and/or maturity level. They do not have to be expensive or complicated to be beneficial. Common objects, such as pots and pans, empty boxes, spools of thread, shoelaces, and wooden spoons are readily accessible and encourage children to use their imagination.
- Remember to explore the outdoor environment, there are so many sensory experiences we can engage in while outside. Activities such as gardening, going for a nature walk, bike ride, swimming, fishing or visiting a new park.
The elementary school years are an important time for learning to play by rules and participating in cooperative activities such as sports teams. Motor skills are being fine-tuned, and there is an increased interest in developing hobbies. Play often serves as a way of developing friendships and expressing one’s unique personality. Finding a balance between formal play (e.g., participating on a sports team) and informal play (e.g., participating on the playground) allows for play time to be both active and creative.
Try these ideas to build skills and expression:
- Participate in board games and sports activities with your child; this helps your child to learn to follow rules.
- Have various craft materials readily available to spark creativity and interest.
- Offer options for extracurricular activities that include both physical and creative exploration (e.g., sports teams or performing arts experiences).
- Provide play opportunities that include both structured and less structured choices (e.g., being on a school team or playing soccer in the backyard with neighborhood friends).
- Don’t forget to keep play activities fun! If you lose that element, it is no longer play.
The early teen years mark a time of exploring social relationships. This is teens’ form of play. Teens tend to like group activities, such as spending time with friends, listening to music, talking, and going to the mall. This time with friends allows them to improve social, movement, and mental skills; gain an understanding of themselves as individuals; and practice new skills in different environments without continuous parental supervision. These opportunities can promote a sense of wellbeing. Young and older teens also enjoy after-school activities, such as clubs (drama, music, art, athletics) and work (volunteer and paid).
- Encourage your child to join community-based clubs or sports.
- Participate in leisure activities with your teen, such as table tennis or biking, to help strengthen family ties and offer opportunities to build communication.
- Ask questions about your child’s preferences in movies or music to indicate your interest and to spark conversation.
- Consider your own habits and routines of leisure and whether they include physical activities and model a balanced lifestyle of work and play. You are a role model for your teen.
High School and Beyond
During the high school years, play promotes cooperation and opportunities for teamwork. Through play, older teenagers are able to get to know themselves better and pinpoint their interests and strengths. As school and social pressures increase at the high school level and beyond, leisure activities can reduce stress, and offer a sense of belonging and a chance to develop their goals.
- Encourage your teen to balance homework with leisure time to promote a healthy lifestyle addressing both mental and physical wellness.
- Encourage limited screen time (TV, computers, MP3 players) and increased physical activity to help prevent or reduce problems associated with obesity and depression.
- Find a good fit between the demands of the leisure activity and the skills and interests of your teen. For example, depending on your child’s personality, physical abilities, and interests, he or she may prefer more physically demanding activities like swimming, whereas other children may prefer debate or drama clubs that challenge verbal and other cognitive skills.
For all age groups, offer healthy, balanced meals as the fuel needed for physical activity.
To prevent injury for all age groups, be mindful about the use and proper maintenance of appropriate safety equipment, such as helmets for biking. Know the signs of concussion. Encourage stretching before and after vigorous exercise.
Low-cost, easily accessible leisure pursuits such as chess and basketball offer lifelong participation through community leagues and recreational centers. Play helps to build coordination and strength as well as creativity and social skills. Play also helps to develop emotional well-being and increases a child’s ability to explore, problem solve, and create.