Today we feature the inspirational mumpreneur Alexia Bannister, mum to 3 gorgeous kids; Harry 7, George 5 and Meels 3. Alexia is bubbly, has a unique creative charm and is a firm believer in the importance of PLAY. She encourages fellow mums to allow their kids to play freely and to promote creativity by prompting them to play with open-ended toys. Alexia is the founder of the uber cool concept design and gift store, Kekstor.
Exclusively for us Fit Malta Mums, she writes a piece on why PLAY MATTERS ….
“Here’s to the kids who are different,
Kids with a mischievous streak,
For when they have grown,
As history has shown,
It’s their difference that makes them unique.”
When a child is born, its parents will have hopes and dreams for their child. They set targets and compare notes with milestone charts, they push and try their best to teach their child to reach those limits within a recommended time frame or faster. The pride one feels when they learn something new, like crawling at 4 months or so, walking before their first birthday and so on … The thing with these milestones is they are just that, a guideline. However, the need for the child to reach them is so strong that parents sometimes forget that they should let the child progress at its own pace.
Another thing about these specific milestones is that they seem to end by the time the child is 4/5 years old. What is a parent supposed to do then?
So we fill our days with extracurricular activities, by no means a bad thing. We parents end up exhausted from driving around from one place to another and the child gets tired and confused because of the pressure of time constraints and the constant rush, leaving no time at all for relaxation and plain and simple PLAY. Change the scene every so often, take them for a run to Buskett or another park for some fresh air and open space and let them create their own adventure even if they simply run around – let them be free.
We tend to underestimate the power of FREE time. Time to just be; to run around, laugh and be present in a non-structured environment.
We also tend to underestimate the power of open-ended play. When buying a toy for a child, I often hear questions such as: “What’s educational about this?” or “How many letters of the alphabet will they learn with this, and does it come in a different language too?” Open-ended toys are often disregarded as they come across as being too simple and would not help to reach that milestone quicker.
I beg to differ. Give your child a cardboard box and he could be entertained for hours. Add a toilet paper roll and you’ve given him a telescope for his ship. Give him a paper plate and he’s now in motion. There are no buttons to push, no sounds to hear and, best of all, no instructions.
Open-ended play allows children to express themselves in play freely and creatively. There are no rules to follow, no expectations, no specific problems to solve and no pressure to produce a finished product. The benefits are countless; heightened imagination, problem-solving and self-regulation just to name a few.
In other words, play matters, let the children PLAY!