Playing with your children isn’t just a pastime or even a perceived duty of parenthood. It’s a formative experience that promotes early developmental growth in young children.
Along with strengthening the bonds you have with your children, taking part in creative play is healthful in more ways than one. When kids engage in imaginative play, they increase social skills while interacting with others and begin learning to share and negotiate. Play boosts creativity and emotional well-being while physically improving dexterity and muscle strength. Additionally, as kids portray fantastical scenes or real-life experiences, their performances often reveal a lot about their perception of the world and how they view others. Observing their unprompted play can be telling, but actually participating with them is even more fun. It’s for these reasons that encouraging your family to enjoy the simple pleasure of playing together is so important.
With this in mind, the hot summer months can make it difficult to want to spend time playing outside. Here are some ideas to combat the summer heat while still getting your playtime on.
Incorporate water into your activities to cool things off. Filling a kiddie pool with water can serve as an outdoor bubble bath or a seaside escape with toy boats and a makeshift beach. Water balloons can be used with plastic bats for a game of baseball or T-ball, you can incorporate water-soaked sponges for a new spin on Duck, Duck, Goose or have a race to see who can fill their bucket up with water the fastest.
Sidewalk chalk looks more vibrant than ever when drawn on pavement still wet from rain or sprinklers, and a makeshift game of bowling can be played with a small ball and plastic bottles.
Get in on the fun
To get the whole family involved, play the Color Game, in which an adult calls out a color and players must run to touch an object of that color. Playing dress-up can quickly transform a dull afternoon, as will a game of Traffic Cop on bikes and scooters. For a more hands-on experience, take part in a make-believe chef experience—real food optional.
The best part about playing with your children is the immersion. If you find yourself distracted, try leaving your phone inside. Making an intentional effort to be present and involved as you spend quality time together serves as a springboard for happy, healthy development.