Play is an essential part of child growth and development. It is one of the central ways in which children learn valuable life skills. Through play, children learn all about how to socialise with others, express their creativity and imagination, and develop their language and cognitive skills.
The benefits of playing are wide-ranging. For kids with special needs, the importance of play in their development is even more significant. Continued child’s play can make a positive difference in their lives physically, socially and emotionally.
Whether it’s used as a teaching mechanism in therapy, initiated by parents at home or teachers at school, play should be a regular part of your child’s everyday life. Here are a few reasons why playing is essential for kids with special needs.
Playing is one of the best ways to encourage children to get active outdoors. This encourages healthy physical development in all children. However, active kid’s play is particularly beneficial to children suffering from muscular or joint illnesses.
Playing outdoor games and activities teaches children how to actively use their bodies and build their energy. The constant movement required in popular kid games like hopscotch, jumping rope, handball, or trampolining can lead to improvements in muscular strength and joint flexibility.
Trampolining, in particular, is very effective in improving children’s motor skills and development as it requires the control of various muscles and limbs at the same time. Unlike other activities, jumping on a trampoline has low impact on joints. This means that kids can jump and bounce as high as they want without putting as much pressure on their joints.
Making friends can often be a challenge for kids with special needs. Playgroups are a great opportunity to address these issues and help kids learn and develop social skills. This is one of the most important aspects of child growth and development.
Group play teaches children how to work in groups, get along with others, and solve conflicts in a fun, stress-free environment. For example, during playtime, children must learn to communicate with each other about rules of the game, share materials fairly, and take turns in a cooperative manner. In turn, they can learn to appreciate the feelings of their peers and understand different points of view, which can help them to develop friendships in everyday situations. Group play is one of the best ways to prepare children at an early age for a lifetime of social interaction.
There are many positive emotional benefits of play for kids with special needs. Kids with physical or developmental disabilities often experience lots of stress due to their everyday challenges. Child’s play is a great way to relieve some of this stress, as it gives them the much needed recreational time to have fun and enjoy themselves.
As kids learn to overcome social obstacles or improve their physical skills through play, it can also have a great impact on their confidence and self-esteem. Child’s play gives kids the opportunity to enjoy personal satisfaction and accomplishment, whether it’s by conquering the monkey bars, completing a puzzle, learning new jumping tricks on the trampoline, or making a new friend during play time. Play can ultimately help them gain a sense of belonging and make them feel more positive about themselves and their capabilities.
Here are some therapist-approved toys and activities from the NAPA team: