Playing with the child, and letting the child play, though may sound similar, are entirely different in their meaning. While the former usually comes automatically when the child is in the mood to play, the latter often involves raising boundaries for the child’s activities. Experts warn that restrictions on play often have a negative impact on the child’s mind, which influences how the child turns into an adolescent in future. Children should be allowed to play on their own. That is how they learn from nature and they, themselves, will understand what to do and what not to do. All children are intelligent. They always try to understand what is being discussed around them, and imitate the same, without knowing the true meaning. This innocence that imbibes all children and also expected of them.Image source: thedoctorweighsin.com
Contrary to what many grownups may believe, playing is not a waste of time or an activity to vent mischief. It is a basic need for all children. Playing helps children develop their mind, muscles, and also the ability to get along with others. It helps them to become more sociable. The type of play changes as the child grows up. Sometimes they are creative, while at other times they could be constructive or even dramatic. Boys and girls usually play the same games when they are young. But as they grow, the games change gradually.
All children should be allowed to play in their own way. Natural unstructured play, far removed from TV cartoons, video games and mobile phones, is the key to proper development of a child. There’s no alternative to playing on open grounds and in a pollution-free atmosphere. Sadly, both of these are not much in abundance in Indian cities that are over-populated and bursting at their seams. In a country where multi-storeyed buildings raise their heads wherever a square inch of land is vacant, playgrounds for children are a rarity. Still, children should be encouraged to play in the open, in whatever space is available.
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Almost a century ago, Nobel laureate and social changer Rabindranath Tagore, realised the need to merge nature with education. Tagore, in his epochal Sahaj Paath, emphasised on the need for open-air education for children. Such classes are conducted even today at Patha Bhavana, the school he founded within the Visva Bharati campus at Santiniketan. Sahaj Paath is still a major book for learning Bengali and widely followed in all school curriculum in West Bengal.
Over the past two decades, the nature of a child’s average free time has changed. Children, today, spend a decreased time outdoors and even that is usually part of an organised sporting activity. Indoor extracurricular activities like music, dance, painting and others, also take up a child’s free time. Unhindered playtime, which allows children to play according to their will, has lessened alarmingly over the years. Children, when left alone and unconfined to boundaries, take initiatives to create stories and activities about the world around them. Outdoors provide unbound playing opportunities and the mud, dirt, rocks and leaves, all contribute to a child’s world of exploration and creation.