As the ‘Month of Play’ initiative gets under way, I thought it would be important for me to start this month-long series by talking to the parents, particularly those with children as young as one month to as old as 10 years old.
This #PlayMattersJA project has allowed me to learn so much about the power of play for children and parents. It has taught me about building a bond, laughter, relieving stress, and much more, so I had to share with my fellow parents how valuable it is. Whether we realise it or not, we’re the ones responsible for making sure that their future, and, by extension, the future of Jamaica, is bright.
I know most, if not all of you, see the importance of education and make sure that your children are enrolled in school.
However, I’m here to tell you that regardless of whether your sweet pickney is only making a passing grade or getting a perfect score in every class, there’s more that you can do to boost their cognitive development.
You can play with them! I can hear some of you now: “Him ramp to much. Him need fi guh study im book.”
But I believe that when we understand the value of play, we will be more willing to allow them to have more than just that hour at lunch.
Just a few months ago, a team from the University of the West Indies’ Caribbean Institute for Health Research completed a 30-year study. These researchers looked at the impact of early intervention on adult ability and success. Dr Christine Powell said the study was birthed out of the idea that “if we could get parents to play more with their children, it would help the children’s brain to develop.” In other words, with just a few hours of play with our children daily, we could see him or her having a higher IQ, better mental health, high self-esteem, greater academic output, and even a better salary as an adult.
Dr Powell added that, “the children who were visited and got the play lessons, they have done consistently well over the years. Twenty years later, we found that the group that received the stimulation were earning 25 per cent more than the group that did not get stimulation.”
Can you imagine that something so small could have such a large impact?
Can you imagine that frequently sparing time to help your pickney with a puzzle, a board game, or even hide and seek could have such a far-reaching impact?
Moreover, this isn’t just some study done that is contextually based on some far-off country. It was done right here in Jamaica, with Jamaican children just like ours. This brings some increased relevance for us.
Having said that, despite the many things we parents have to do on a day-to-day basis, and trust me, I know just how busy we can be, I think we would be crazy to neglect playing with our kids, especially when we see how important it can be even 30 years from now.
So as November progresses and activities surrounding the Month of Play #PlayMattersJA project continue, let us as parents make sure that our pickney play so that we can enhance their progress.
By: Emprezz Golding