Creative play. It sounds like a technical term, and in many ways it is. However, it’s also just kids playing, exploring, and being kids. Creative play can come in many forms. It can be a child building a fort, drawing, coloring, playing make-believe or many other types of play that you’re probably familiar with if you have young children.
It’s important to allow children to have downtime in their schedules so that they can experience boredom and find creative ways to play. When we allow children freedom and time, they can amaze us with what the come up with. There are many benefits to imaginative play. Kids need to be able to explore, create, think and discover each day.
Creative play can help children learn independence. It can help them learn how to work together in small groups if they’re playing games with friends. It can help them with math skills such as identifying shapes, counting, and building. It can help them develop fine motor skills such as holding a pencil to draw or paintbrush to paint. They can learn how to express their emotions and build vocabulary through creative play. To kids, they’re just playing and having fun with their friends, but a lot is going on inside their brains. The benefits of creative play last their entire lifetime.
Understanding the benefits of creative play is an essential first step. Figuring out how to incorporate it into your child’s day is critical. In today’s society, we tend to overschedule our children even from a young age. If you’ve got several children in your family and they’re all in 1-3 activities each week, it may feel like you’re never home. The youngest ones may spend hours in their car seats or with tablets or phones in hand as they’re shuffled from practice to ballet lessons to whatever else for themselves or older siblings. We need to make sure that our children have time to relax and play too. Activities are good, but children need both quiet/unstructured play time and scheduled activities to be well rounded.
Allowing children downtime or the opportunity to be bored helps encourage creative play.
It’s through play that they learn more. Swap an hour of screen time for an hour of unstructured free play and encourage your kids to have fun and try new things. Remove a few of their regular toys from the playroom and replace with balls, puppets, playdough, superhero capes, art supplies, a giant cardboard box or whatever else you can find that sparks the imagination. You may suddenly find them playing a rousing game of hot potato with a balloon or building a fort in the living room.
If you’re outside or at school, you may find them on the playground or at the park with their friends and laughing, giggling, and having fun while they gather in a small group and create the “rules” for their new running game or pretending they’re protecting a castle and on the lookout from the top of the playground equipment. Maybe they’ll dig in the sand and build sand castles or dig moats. You never know what children will do when given a chance to play creatively but you can be sure they’re learning new skills at the same time.