Play: the work of childhood
We can be a bit dismissive of ‘play’, can’t we? Play is for fun, for leisure, for relaxation. For when there’s no proper work to be done. It’s an optional extra – nice to have, but not essential.
But there are some vital life skills that are best learnt through play. Here are five of them:
1. Social skills
Playing – whether it’s sport, board games or make-believe – is a great way to develop social skills. It introduces children to teamwork and cooperation, to sharing, and to not always being the centre of attention. It helps develop communication skills, and it’s a natural context for developing leadership ability.
2. Winning and losing
Life is a long succession of victories and defeats, in one context or another. Play introduces children to the concepts of winning and losing, and is important preparation for what life holds in store. Being magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat doesn’t come naturally – but a family game of BrainBox World is a great way to learn.
3. Physical development
Play can improve muscle development, balance and coordination. It can sharpen reflexes, and improve concentration – all useful things! Time spent throwing and catching a ball, riding a bike and colouring in is definitely not time wasted, and will pay dividends in later life.
Albert Einstein once said that “play is the highest form of research.” It helps develop an understanding of the world, and how it works. Role play and make-believe can enhance self-expression and imagination, foster empathy and build confidence.
Children pick things up fast, but they don’t become experts immediately. Play can teach them perseverance – sticking with something and getting better and better at it. That’s a characteristic that will prove invaluable when it comes to mastering a musical instrument, studying for exams or pushing for promotions.
And, of course, play is fun. It’s a source of joy and excitement, energy and enthusiasm. And not just for children – it’s good for all of us! At the Green Board Game Company we’re convinced of the value of playing together as a family. It builds relationships, and it makes memories.
In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”