Children will return to school after almost 18 months of the virus outbreak, social distancing, and virtual classes. Like adults, they too are carrying the extra burden of stress and uncertainty. But kids and adults have different ways of expressing themselves, and they must do it. According to experts, play tends to be their outlet. It allows them to process everything that happened throughout the day and solve problems. Playing is also critical for their overall well–being, such as social, cognitive, creative, and emotional, as they learn self-regulation habits, decision-making, and goal setting. That’s why it would help if parents and caregivers understand, communicate, and connect with their children through play.
The purpose of the sport remains clearly defined. Kids benefit emotionally and cognitively through structured play and free play. Structured play includes puzzles, board games, and individual or team games, which involve a set of instructions and rules to follow. These games help kids take charge of their emotions, wait for their chance, follow the rules, and handle feelings of success or failure associated with it.
On the other side, free or unstructured play lets kids do what they like without any guidance from adults. It doesn’t have any outcome. These games allow them and their brain to enjoy a sense of freedom after spending a structured day at school. All this helps them to be creative and resilient. They get time and space to process their experiences along with an enhanced sense of problem-solving too. Painting, fantasy play, and block games are some examples of free play.
Playing unstructured games with children in the pandemic
Children need their parents’ company more than ever. Although the free play doesn’t follow any rules, you can still engage in these activities with your little ones. In your backyard or hall, you can create some floor space to play with their toys. Sit with them and make them feel that this is a special type of engagement. Let your kid be in charge of the game. However, it would be best if you showed interest in their game. believes giving feedback can be the right approach. More precisely, repeat what your kid is doing or saying without being judgmental.
Although these games don’t have any boundary setting, you still have to ensure that your kid doesn’t destroy toys or end up hurting anyone. If they show destructive or harmful behavior, you would want to step in and control. Make sure you understand your kid’s feelings and give them another alternative for such behavior. For example, if your kid is angry, which can be because of the stressful situation around everyone, you can tell them that they cannot hit people, but they can hit the stuffed toy.
The kids should get their special playtime every week for 30 minutes or so. And parents should allow them to indulge in this without using it as a tool for punishment or reward. These practices can benefit their well-being, especially during these naturally stressful times caused by the pandemic.