It is vital to optimal development. When a child plays, they reduce their stress reactivity, fine tune sensory motor and processing systems, develop social skills, build relationships with others and learn. As adults, we can help by making sure our kids have time for play and that we are encouraging physical play and guiding them through good social skills and good choices while they play. One of the ways we can do this is by playing WITH the child.
Whether it be playing games, pushing them on the swing, or just being silly, we get the opportunity to help guide them in self regulation and social aspects of play, as well as building our relationship connection.
In the classroom, children who are actively, playfully involved in learning (hands on, playing games or having physical movement) will learn and retain their lessons much more quickly than those who are simply told the information while sitting quietly in their seats.
Developmental researchers tell us it takes 400 verbal repetitions to make a hard-wired connection in the brain, however if a person is actively involved (not just hearing, but also participating) it takes only around 20 repetitions. So if you ever feel like you’ve “told this child 100 times ….” you probably have, but it’ll take 300 more to hard wire that information. So, try playful and active involvement for quicker retention. For example, if we want the child to close the door without slamming it. We can remind them every time with “don’t slam the door” (400 times) or we can in a playful manner/voice say “hey whoa, let’s see if we can close it quietly.”
Have the child go back and close the door correctly.
We call this a “redo.” We are giving the child active involvement in learning the correct thing.
Keep in mind the “redo” won’t necessarily work while the child is upset or on the verge of a meltdown, we want to practice learning the skill/information when the child is not upset.