Vrooooooooom! Vrooom! shouted Tarek while running around the house with outstretched arms. “I am an airplane! Vrooooooooom! Vrooom!” We all remember similar anecdotes in our children’s lives. Sometimes we would think our children’s role play is funny and amusing; while other times we would complain about how noisy undisciplined our children are and get angry at the mess they leave behind them.
What we do not realize is the importance of free play in our children’s lives. Play is such an important factor in a child’s life that the United Nations has entered it as an integral part of the Human Rights of the child. It has also been scientifically proved that play affects the social physical and emotional development of the child.
Role play is one of the most important forms of play in the life of a child. It is how children make sense of the world around them. This kind of play does not need any fancy toys or equipment. All it needs is time, space, imagination and the freedom to do it without direct intervention from adults.
Parents of course need to supervise children’s play but at a distance and should not interfere or join the role play unless specifically invited by their children. When parents are asked by their children to join in the role play, it is a golden opportunity to help them communicate with their children on another level.
Role play can be a mirror of the child’s environment. If children live in an abusive environment it will be reflected in their role play. When children pretend to be Moms and Dads they will mimic their parent’s style of conversation be it loving and caring or abusive and hurtful.
Today’s children are challenged when it comes to free play. Their loving parents think that to be good parents they have to keep their children fully occupied with different activities all designed to enrich their lives.
This is done at great cost to parents in terms of time and money. Young parents today spend a lot of their time taking their kids from one activity to another. They are also under pressure from their social milieu. If so and so’s daughter is taking ballet then their daughter should even though she may not be in the least bit interested or capable and so on and so forth.
The new technology available to children today also takes a big chunk of children’s time be it watching TV , playing digital games or surfing the web. Sadly not much time is left for free play.
Below are a few pointers to parents to help them encourage free play:
- Do not enroll your child in more than one outside activity per semeste
- Limit TV and internet time.
- Provide your children with a box full of old clothes and simple toys from around the house.
- Read to your child on a daily basis.
- Encourage Your children to occupy themselves using their imagination by providing them with the time and space to do that.
“Anything” (أي شيء ) A new story from the (Goldfish Series) illustrated by Nadine Kaadan. “Anything” tells the story of two kids Samar and Rami, who spend a fun afternoon play acting and are delighted when their mothers return from shopping with a surprise that they bring along. (Lift the flap to see what the surprise is!)