The link between child development and free-play
The American Speech-Language-Hearing-Association conducted a survey in 2015 which showed that 68 percent of 2-year-olds use tablets, 59 percent use smartphones and 44 percent use video game consoles. As technology has become our children’s main source of entertainment, the bigger questions stands: “Why has the digital age taken over the learning development of our children?”
It is important for parents to bear in mind that the brain of a child develops rapidly before the age of 3. This is a crucial time in your toddler’s life, when he/she begins forming speech and language abilities through human communication and interaction.
Regardless of age, “play” is the universal language amongst children. Through play, your kids learn to use all their senses by touching, tasting, smelling, hearing and imitating actions they see from others. Free-play is also referred to as “unstructured play”, where children take the initiative to create stories around set activities without the guidance from a parent or adult close by.
Outdoor play is as important as imaginative play as your child strengthens their muscles and mobility, whether it be through jumping off a rock or learning to navigate across the monkey bars. By simply taking your kids outdoors or to a playpark, you are able to watch their confidence grow as they learn to take risks and explore the world around them.
Angela Hanscom, a paediatric occupational therapist and author of ‘Balanced and Barefoot’, strongly believes that taking kids outside to play comes with a host of confidence-boosting benefits.
“I have a son who is differently-abled and it is my responsibility to ensure that he is exposed to a variety of childhood activities and experiences. I try encouraging Damian to explore on his own and note how social interaction with other children builds his confidence, influences the way he engages with others, and spurs his eagerness to try new things. We often visit Bugz Playpark, where the layout and pathways make the playground accessible for wheelchairs; it makes it possible for a child like Damian to experience all areas of the park,” says Deirdré Gower, Warrior on Wheels Foundation.
Bugz Playpark is the largest playpark in the Western Cape and have worked hard towards building a range of zones which are in the best interests of toddlers aged 2 – 10, fostering hands on creative development. The playpark boasts a colourful and intriguing indoor area filled with slides, educational boards and obstacles to keep attention spans going while allowing creativity to overflow. Their huge outdoor area challenges little minds, builds motor skills and “burns energy the fun way.”
“We aim to strengthen and develop core skills crucial to the growth of kids by incorporating educational boards which explain the skills your child is developing by fulfilling the set activity. 2017 will mark 10 years since the playpark has opened and we are passionate about the importance of play as well as our safe, well maintained and ever developing playpark,” says Lise Liebenberg, founder of Bugz Playpark.
* Visit Bugz Playpark with your little one at 56 Tarentaal Street, Joostenbergvlakte, Kraaifontein.
For more information and to book one of their themed parties, call 021 988 8836, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.