Play is one of the most important ways that children learn and prepare for life, as well as being a crucial activity for igniting and stimulating a love of learning. The Early Years Services Officer Tracey Hobbs once said: "Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning, but for children play is serious learning. Play, really, is the work of childhood. That workP is the activity through which children build lifelong skills and abilities. Taking part in social interactions with their peers and familiar adults is one really important way to learn and develop some of those new skills." Many babies and toddlers have regular opportunities to engage with their peers, and some develop long-lasting relationships with particular peers, that can begin from birth. By six months of age, babies can communicate with other babies by smiling, touching and babbling. It can be seen that social play begins in infancy.
Learning social skills is a key part of a child's development. Good social skills allow children to interact positively with others and communicate their needs, wishes and feelings effectively. Furthermore, the benefits of robust social skills extend far beyond social connections and acceptance. Children with better social skills may benefit immediately. For example, one study found that good social skills can reduce stress in children. Social skills need to be refined as children grow. They are not something a child has or doesn't have. These skills develop with age and can be learned and strengthened with effort and practice.
What are the benefits of social play for kids?
1. Builds confidence
Social play helps to build confidence. Often when children play together there is less direct adult supervision, meaning children cannot rely on an adult to tell them what to do - instead they have to organise themselves. This offers children the chance to gain in confidence by thinking independently, taking on leadership roles and voicing their opinions.
2. Improve communication, vocabulary and language
A study conducted by the University of Georgia observed 65 kindergarten students in their classrooms over a four-week period. The presence of play, especially social games such as drama games and role-playing, was found to predict performance in pre-reading, language, and writing. These social games allow children to practice new vocabulary and try to understand others as they speak.
3.Develops emotional intelligence
Playful children tend to be happier, better adjusted, more co-operative, and more popular with their peers than those who play less. Such children grow to have a better understanding of other people’s feelings and beliefs. Emotional intelligence is the key to forming good relationships with others, relationships which are vital to both personal and professional success later in life.
Social play is so important for kids. Six tips to encourage kid's social play are shown in the following paragraghs.
1. Set a Good Example and Be a Role Model
Do your children see you having fun with your friends at the park? Do they notice that you take an interest in other hobbies or activities? Being a good role model for your children to follow is extremely important. The family is the first school in a child's life, and parents are like the child's first teacher. A child is like the shadow of his parents, and his parents are the objects he imitates. They will feel inspired to try new things, make new friends, and achieve their full potential.
2. Teach children to take the initiative to interact with others
Children take the initiative to contact and get acquainted with other children, which can make children feel that they are valued and have a good first impression of each other, which is of great help in becoming friends. A child who actively makes friends will not turn down social play. To shape your children's friendships and develop social skills, you provide opportunities for them to interact with children who share their interests and values. You can start by asking your child to help you with small tasks, like writing a well-wishes card for a sick friend; picking up unused toys to take to the children's hospital; or making a dessert for a neighbor. These small tasks can develop children's social skills and are conducive to children's social play.
3. Encourage Them to Ask Open-Ended Questions
When children get conversation lags, they may become hesitant to communicate with others, becoming more introverted and struggling in future social situations. However, there are ways children can initiate conversations with others. One meaningful way is to teach children to ask questions that they can’t answer with a yes or a no. For example, try to start a conversation by asking them what their favorite color is, what their favorite part of a trip is, or what they want to do this weekend. Also, remember to allow your children to ask you questions. It will help them learn how to express their thoughts in different situations and speak up confidently next time they meet someone new.
4. Teach your child to listen
Listening isn't just about being quiet -- it means really absorbing what the other person has to say. Listening is an essential part of healthy communication and an important social skill. Listening is also an important part of developing empathy. Without first listening and understanding what the other person is saying, a child cannot show empathy or provide support to others, let alone form a good social relationship. You can try the following methods to train your children to listen. When reading to your child, stop periodically and let them tell you what you are reading. Pause, and then say, "Tell me what you remember about this story so far." Help them fill in any gaps they've missed, and encourage them to keep listening as you continue. Don't let your child interrupt others when they are talking.
5. Encourage children to share
According to a study in the journal Psychological Science, children as young as 2 years old are already showing a desire to share with others — but usually only when their resources are abundant. Sharing can be a difficult concept for young children because they focus more on their own needs and desires than those of others. Sharing is crucial to children's social skill development because it helps them maintain and grow friendships. It's also a great way to bond and show appreciation. While forcing your child to share is usually not a good idea, you can praise your child for sharing and notice how it makes others feel. You could say something like, "You chose to share your toy with your sister. I bet she'd be happy about it."
6. Find moments for learning in play
Children use a lot of social skills when they play. Finding learning opportunities in games can be helpful. You can try asking your child to help out with tasks to see if they try to work with others to develop teamwork skills. You need to teach your child to deal with winning, losing or not getting results in positive ways. If your child hits or bites, help them understand how others feel when they are hurt. Praise your child when you see them doing well. You can also gently encourage your child to apologize if they hurt someone while playing. If they don't feel comfortable doing so, model an apology for them until they feel more confident. You can say something like, "Lucas feels bad that he hurt you, and he wants to say he's sorry."
After developing some social skills, we can let children try social play. The following will recommend some games suitable for social play.
Fantasy games are a very popular game for children. Using children's imaginations while playing helps develop their communication skills. It's good for them to create their own games. You can encourage children to develop their imagination by giving them props. If they were pretending to be a baker, these props could be things like whisks and bowls.
Constructive play is where children experiment with drawing, music and building things. Let them do arts and crafts and play with blocks are good choices. This helps them develop motor skills and reduce clumsiness. Constructive play also helps children learn about distance and size. It is important to allow your child to solve problems on their own or with a partner through constructive play.
Role playing is an great way for your children to practice social skills. As mentioned earlier, it allows children to practice new vocabulary and try to understand others while speaking. Playing drama games at home with your kids on weekends is a great option. You each play different roles, which allows your child to practice social skills, and you can check how well your child is talking to others in the game. When role playing, don't forget to encourage your child to use body language, such as smiling and making eye contact.
Here I recommend an educational toy that does not require the Internet and allows children to learn mathematics, beiens mental math game. As a parent, you don't need to worry about your children's learning being affected by playing. This product has game mode and stage mode. Children can work together to break through levels and develop social skills while learning. Game mode includes find patterns and find numbers, children can learn to find the pattern of numbers, find the largest or smallest number. The stage mode includes 3 stages of increasing difficulty, and each stage has 5 levels of increasing difficulty to stimulate children's interest in breaking through the level. Let your kids play with their friends in competition mode for easy in-game learning and social development.