Debunking Playtime Myths
What is the real meaning of playtime for your children, and why is it so crucial for their development? For example, is a kids playhouse just another toy, or is there more to it?
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy! We all know this old saying. Most of us believe that it means that everyone needs some time off work. However, both psychologists and healthcare experts claim that play and leisure time have a deeper meaning for our health than we might even imagine. Especially when we talk about children, whose bodies are only developing, establishing vital systems that will determine their future health and life quality.
However, the concept of play appears to be severely mythologized today. It happens due to many factors, most of which are based on developing the unwieldy educational system that we have to deal with today.
Rooting in the outdated principles of equalization, it has that “one size fits all” approach to students` personalities. Of course, it is easier to deal with many children that think and behave the same. But practice shows that such approach and imposed discipline often backfire with severe mental development issues.
However, we all have gone through this mental meat grinder. Today we may unconsciously try to prepare our children, help them adapt to what expects them in the future. Therefore we often present playtime as some luxury or indulgence, not a natural state and activity for a child. And the worst part is that many parents eventually sincerely believe it.
In this article, we shall go over the most common myths and misconceptions about playtime that can be pretty harmful to children and their parents, preventing numerous families worldwide from building healthy and joyful relationships.
Play is a Waste of Time
This myth comes from two misconceptions. First of all, children have a different time concept than grown-ups. We look at the time we have as a period between what we have already done and what we shall have to do in the observable future. Unlike grown-ups, children don’t plan their lives. Yes, they may dream of becoming astronauts or doctors when they grow up, sitting in their wooden playhouses, but this is not actually planning. According to a child’s mind, those events happen really far in the future and therefore can be compared to Hollywood’s speculations about how the XXV century will look like.
In other words, children live in the moment, and what happens here and now is the only thing that matters and makes sense to them. That is why a child won’t understand what you mean when you say that he or she is wasting time.
Another essential thing to understand that playing, living in the imaginary world, decorating an outdoor playhouse is your child’s mechanism to process and give meaning to some things and events he or she may not wholly comprehend yet. For example, a kids playhouse or a cushion fort is a perfect polygon for kids to think through and imagine their understanding of independent life and family relationships.
Playtime is children's` way of understanding social interactions, objects, and behavior patterns, experimenting with them, and finding their place in society, even if it happens in such a small scale as a kids playhouse.
Play is Not Educational
In fact, your child may learn much more from decorating his or her playhouse or squishing slime than from any lesson or book.
Whether your child plays alone, with siblings and friends, or with you, playtime is a way to determine and experiment with different personality traits, explore creativity and develop crucial skills.
Any kind of active playing develops a child physically, improves coordination, and discovers physical abilities and limits. Observing specific rules during the playtime develops discipline. Reading and remembering instructions teaches to absorb and process information. Decorating a wooden playhouse develops creativity. After all, numerous games and everyday activities teach children to count, develop their logic, analytic qualities, and countless other skills that will eventually help them with academic studies and careers.
"Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.”
- O. Fred Donaldson
Babies don’t Play. And Grown-ups also don’t
Most people believe that as long as babies cannot comprehend and follow specific patterns yet, they don’t play. However, experts claim that playtime is essential for new babies. As soon as they start to respond to other people, it is crucial to start playing with them to encourage this interaction and lay the foundation for the essential social skills.
The simplest Peek-a-boo game can do more for your child’s mental and social development than years of therapy and self-knowledge.
At the same time, how often do we hear parents telling their children that they are too old to play? Being a powerful stress reliever, playtime might be the only way for a young person to save whatever sense he or she might have left in the face of hormone changes, pressure at school, and other dramatic aspects of maturing. Lack of playtime at this period or shaming inevitably leads to numerous behavior problems and the development of harmful habits, things primarily associated with puberty.
Talking about aging, puberty is not the only critical point one passes during a lifetime. Middle age crisis, postpartum depression, emotional and professional burnout – those are only some of the numerous critical periods most of us have to face from time to time.
According to several kinds of research, playtime and play therapy are the most efficient ways to help people at any age widen their horizons, re-evaluate the course of events, and look at any issue from a different angle, overcoming the crisis.
Parental Myths about Playtime
Children are not the only ones who become victims of various myths and misconceptions about playtime. Today we are overflown with information, opinions, and concept about parenting that are mostly mutually excluding and make it somewhat impossible to be a good parent.
Let’s go over the most common ones.
Parents Should Never Let Children Play in an Outdoor Playhouse Unsupervised
Parents are the primary role models for their children. That is why every time you get involved when your children plays alone or with other kids, even in their own wooden playhouse, they will follow your lead rather than making an independent decision. However, developing social skills and being independent and responsible is one of kids playhouses essential functions. That is why it is crucial to let go and allow your child to play unsupervised as much as possible.
Of course, there is a difference between freedom and recklessness. Letting your child play alone in an outdoor playhouse, it is essential to make sure that the environment and surroundings are safe and they know precisely how to find you as soon as they want to go home or need their parent’s comfort.
Good Parents Never Let Their Children Outside Alone
Once again, it is essential to understand that we are talking about an appropriate age, safe and familiar environment for a child.
Yes, there are numerous hazards for a child outdoors. Various vehicles, strangers, animals, and weather conditions, and accidents are all potential dangers for a child. But your child will learn to deal with those events and hazards only through practice. Teaching them fundamental road and social safety is all you can do to protect your child in the future. All the rest will come with life experience.
There are specific hazards for a child, even in your backyard. Extreme temperature, insects and wild animals, floodings and earthquakes – you child can face all those things even at home. However, playing outside, for example, in an outdoor playhouse, is crucial for a child’s healthy development, and being independent is integral to quality playtime.
Good Parents Encourage Indoor/Outdoor Playtime
Those are two counter-excluding playtime myths. One claims that parents should encourage more indoor Playtime. It is supposed to be some kind of therapy that bonds a child with the home and family activities. Another point of view is that a child should spend as much time outdoors to develop healthily.
Both those concepts have their pros and cons, but their main common problem is that all children are different. Even siblings who grow up in the same family may have other habits, personal traits, and social life demands.
The main idea is to determine and develop your child’s preferences. Both indoor and outdoor playtime can be equally bonding and fun for the whole family. You can freely play in your kids playhouse and enjoy quality bonding time.
Getting your children a wooden playhouse or a swing set may be a great way to encourage them to leave their gadgets behind and play in the fresh air. A DIY playhouse kit may also be a great joyful and educational project for the whole family.
Today you may also find various board games for all ages or any theme that will collect the whole family around the table and be a perfect rainy day or indoor playtime.
At the same time, numerous games and activities work both indoors and outdoors. DIY creative projects, painting and sculpturing, role-playing, and imaginative play – all those activities are equally beneficial and appropriate for all family members.
The main idea here is not to impose and let your children decide where and how they want to play.
Playtime is crucial both for the mental and physical development of children. It helps them learn and understand the world around them, process and comprehend relationships and develop their personalities. An outdoor playhouse allows your children to discover their true interests and passions, experiment with them, and determine their plans for the future. There are numerous other benefits of kids playhouses, but they all come to one: quality playtime is crucial for your children. It is an educational and informative activity.
Playhouses, swing sets, DIY projects, or imaginative free play are all appropriate for any age and play an essential part in developing independence and critical thinking, social and physical skills. Playtime prepares children for the grown-up life and helps us all deal with the everyday routine and overcome troubles.
"Almost all creativity involves purposeful play."
- Abraham Maslow
Written by WholeWoodPlayhouses