Olaniyi Damilola. R.N, RpdN (in view)
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Play is a very important aspect of child development.

Play is what folks see as a thing children get involved in until the stage where they are expected to outgrow it.

Just to change your impression of what play is, play is not just a child’s thing but a facet of life experience for all, both old and young.

Play could be said to be an act of engaging in spontaneous guided activities without the intention of causing harm. Play is one of the highest achievements of the human species, it provides an ideal setting for brain development through sensor-motor, cognitive, and socio-emotional experience.

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Children should be encouraged to play, it should be part of their daily routine

These experiences are essential for healthy development of children and adolescent. Research shows that 75% of brain development occurs after birth. Hence, the play activities children engage in, stimulates them and influences the pattern of connection made between the nerve cells to influence the development of fine and gross motor skills, language, socialization, personal awareness, emotional wellbeing, creativity, problem solving skills and learning ability.

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Play is often difficult to define, however there have been numerous attempts to categorize the various forms of play.

As for every aspect of a child’s development, there is a form of play peculiar in that stage which is vital and important in their physical, intellectual and socio-emotional growth.

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Play should be incorporated into the academics of children

Children develop in an holistic manner [an all round kind of growth and development]. Generally, our lives have become more inactive and children have less opportunity for play each day. The reasons for these are;

  • Excessive television watching
  • Few family members to play with
  • Restriction / Being grounded at home
  • Few safe play areas
  • Little or No extracurricular activities in learning centres.

Here are what a child stands to gain from play during the course of their development;

  • Large Muscle development which could also be regard as gross motor skills, can be achieved through; Walking forward, backward and sideways, tip-toeing, running, stopping and starting, crawling through a barrel or tunnel.
  • These activities basically develop body management, balance, bodily co-ordination, strength, agility and confidence.
  • Fine motor Skills through; Building blocks, gripping a pencil, assembling materials; These activities promote hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, fine motor control, accuracy, manipulative strength.
  • Catching a large ball between extended arms, kicking a ball, pushing a large ball away from a target helps promote spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination and foot and leg coordination.
  • Physical and outdoor play include throwing and catching, rolling, climbing, carrying and passing, swinging, dancing, moving to action rhymes.
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How should the play environment look like? Large space of land in schools, field or play ground, safe equipment and large equipments such as climbing frame, tyres Small equipments like balloons, balls, skipping ropes, bikes, and cars.

What then do we need for play?

SPACE [ large space of land in schools, field or play ground]
Safe equipment and safe surface
Large equipment such as climbing frame, tyres
Small equipment like balloons, balls, skipping ropes, bikes, and cars.
Lots of enthusiasm and energy

N;B Physical activities should not be beyond a child’s capability.
A healthy child has lots of energy. He or she needs opportunity to crawl, run, dance, climb and balance.

They derive joy in these movements as it leads to healthy growth and development. We therefore, should encourage them to challenge and exercise their bodies. Physical play is fun!

• Authors profile

Olaniyi Damilola is a Registered Nurse who currently is undergoing training to become a paediatric nurse in the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital Nigeria.

(c) Care City Blog. 2019


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