Play is the building block for well-being and success in life.
June 22, 2020
During this pandemic, we are all being challenged in many ways and called to draw upon our resiliency to cope with the isolation and restrictions we’re facing. Children are not immune to the damaging effects of long-term isolation and may struggle even more than adults without their usual outlets for learning and development, including free play. Over the past 14 weeks, families have found themselves feeling “stuck indoors”, both parenting and teaching 24/7. Denise, a local step-mother, business owner and personal trainer, shed some light on her experience with how the pandemic has affected her child, and the idea that the stress, anxiety and irritable feelings that we as adults are feeling due to the lack of social connections and physical activity, is also being felt by our children.
“About eight weeks into quarantine, the weight of isolation and indoor life started to show on our son, and we had to change our quarantine game plan,” Denise said. “Though initially met with resistance, our ‘two-a-day’ outdoor activity breaks proved to be the solution to grumpy moods and temper tantrums. Our son would go outside with his Dad and shoot hoops daily, and the three of us would go out for bike rides.”
And while Denise and her family are lucky enough to own their own sports and recreational equipment, there are many other families who are facing negative behaviours, daily temper tantrums and grumpy moods that do not have access to green space or the items needed to nurture their children’s physical and mental well-being.
The goal of the Children’s Foundation new initiative, Free to Grow at Home, is to give kids access to recreational items that will bring learning, creativity, physical activity and fun to their doorsteps this summer. For children, play is the method by which they best learn and develop - they need play in order to thrive. Play provides an opportunity to build social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills. This combination is critical to the holistic development of a child.
“Transition can be particularly tough for kids, especially when there are so few outlets for them to work off energy with many sports and camps being canceled for the summer,” says Denise. “Helping family’s access these same resources by donating to the Children’s Foundation doesn’t just provide something to play with, but rather the tools to build a health body, create cross connections and neuro-pathways in the brain through movement, foster sportsmanship, create health relationships with exercise, and grow mental and emotional resiliency.”
Resiliency is one of the key qualities that arises from play and it is a quality we need now more than ever. With an ever-changing and uncertain future, resiliency, adaptability, problem-solving, collaboration, and both creative and critical thinking, are the necessary building blocks for well-being and success in life. All of these qualities are developed and fostered through childhood play, and is why supporting kids to have the tools they need to engage in physical, creative and learning activities is paramount for their future success.
To see how you can support kids in their healthy development, go to https://www.childrensfoundation.org/ways-to-help/free-to-grow-at-home
To read more about Denise's story, click here.