The Power of Play


Of course playing is fun for kids, but it’s also essential for learning about the world and themselves; kids develop their social-emotional, cognitive, language and physical skills.


Play helps kids develop social skills, cooperation, sharing and turn taking as well as empathy and building emotional connections with their peers. Play also helps children build their self-confidence and release pent up emotions.

Play helps kids learn about the world around them, teaching them problem solving and early literacy skills.

Play encourages children to build their muscles, learn to balance and create healthy habits for later in life.

Playing with your child increases your bond to them and theirs to you, which in turn encourages communication. Parents also have the opportunity to learn more about their child and teach them self-regulation skills.


Ways To Play


Infant Play

Responding to your baby’s smiles, and coos; have a back and forth “conversation” with them

Show your baby brightly colored toys, let baby explore their toys

Put baby on their tummy’s to encourage them to move their head and limbs around prepping them to learn how to roll over.

Give baby safe items with different textures: feathers, bubbles, blocks, books, etc

Show baby themselves using a mirror


Toddler Play

Let your toddler play with blocks, empty containers (think old butter tubs, pots, etc), wooden spoons, cardboard boxes

Get your toddler moving; take them to the park or an indoor play space where they can stretch and build their muscles along with learning how to balance and move.

Get pretending; play make-believe and dress-up to encourage your toddler to learn empathy and creativity

Encourage language skills by singing and rhyming with your toddler

Encourage peer interactions and model behaviors


Preschool Play

Playing with play-doh and slime help your preschooler develop their fine motor skills

Matching games and puzzles can help improve your child’s memory and concentration

Painting and coloring to develop cognitive and fine motor skills

Encourage peer cooperative play to build social skills


Benefits of Structured Play

Structured play, is just that, structured. Play happens at a fixed time and place lead by a grown-up. Kids will often be interested in following the grown-up’s directions and being a part of a group to meet a common or individual goal. Structured play promotes cooperation, active listening and confidence.



Benefits of Unstructured Play

Unstructured is play that happens spontaneously, this play allows children to use their imagination and do what they feel like doing. Kids typically find something on their own that piques their interest and are happy to play either on their own or with others without rules or expectations. Unstructured play promotes problem solving skills, decision-making skills and creativity.




When Parents Don’t Feel Like Playing


Sometimes, we as parents don’t have the energy or the mental capacity to engage with our children when they want to play. This can make us feel guilty and remorseful; feeling like we should appreciate this time, that our children want to spend time with us. But, we also don’t want playing with our children to feel like a chore on top of the other million things we have to do on a daily basis.

What we can do when we’re not up to playing is acknowledge our feelings and take some time for some self-care. As parents we want to be able to be authentic and present when we’re playing with our children, not in our own head. You can also tell your child that you need to get your feelings out before you play with them. This can help children understand and identify their own emotions and how to deal with them appropriately. Once you feel better you can play with your child and they’ll be ready for you, too!