A few days ago, I was at the kiosk near our home, getting some groceries from our resident Mama Mboga. It just so happened that her children were around the area, playing, having a good time, when she suddenly looked at her watch and yelled at them to go back home and study. After which she turned towards me and commented, “These children just like to play all the time. If it was up to me, I would have them studying all day every day.”
Fast forward to today. It’s World Children’s Day and the theme for this year is The Right to Play. As I sit here writing this, I wonder, why do our kids need playtime? Do you know?
Well, I did a little digging and these are some of the things I discovered that our children get to develop when they play:
Confidence and self-esteem
With games like football and rounders, they get to discover what they are really good at and work in teams to make the dream work. As a result, they build their self-esteem because they find something that they love doing and can brag about every so often.
Imagination and self-expression
Closer home, I stumbled upon my niece watching Esme and Roy, a show on Akili Kids! TV. In this particular episode, Snug, a monster, wants to play but has got a case of the “Sneezles” and needs to stay in bed! Esme & Roy come up with a game whereby they turn Snugs’ bed into a ship, and they all pretend to be sailors! This way, Snug doesn’t have to leave his bed and gets to enjoy playtime with his friends. Always willing to think outside the box, Roy and Esme have faith that any problem can be solved through play! How fascinating.
Physical skills, like fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination
And now just thinking about one of our favorite outdoor games like Kati! For one to succeed, you have to be able to gauge the direction the ball is headed towards and figure out a way to duck, as fast as possible and then run all the way to the other side, and if the ball is thrown mid-way, you need to think about how you’re going to duck and run at the same time without straying beyond the boundaries. Our kids get to do this every day with their friends, so much so, that their motor and hand-eye coordination skills grow immensely. Something that they wouldn’t have learnt if they were sat at home.
World Children’s Day!
As we celebrate today, we believe that play is essential for our children’s emotional, social and physical development. It is a vital part of growing up and learning fundamental life skills, so while we make time for our kids to play, let’s remember to do it too! Ama wasemaje?