Families at Play

May 25, 2011

Duck….. duck……duck….Welcome to AP Month 2011!

Our theme this year is “Families at Play:  Nurturing Parent-Child Relationships through Play” and we’re full of a playful spirit as we welcome you to AP Month Central where you can skip around and find out about what’s going on for AP Month this year.

Even though AP Month doesn’t get started until October, you’ll want to know about the participatory activities that require advance submissions and warm up so be sure to check out the offerings on the left.

Simon says to click to our auction site for more details on how you can donate items or collect donated items for the AP Month Online auction. Our online auction is a big feature of AP Month and to prepare for that, we’re looking for everyone’s help to collect some great items.

“Ready or not, here I come!” Do you remember?  Did you play it?

The line is from Hide and Seek  – it’s what that the seeker yells out after counting and before going out to find the hiders and we’re calling out to all the parents who are hiding behind “too much” to come out and play with their children!  If you’ve never played Hide and Seek with your children, give it a whirl!  Even young ones love to play it in modified forms.

When I suggested that you play with your child, did you notice any passing thoughts like this:  “I’m no good at games” or “My child doesn’t want/need to play with me” or “my children are too old for those sorts of games”  or “my children are already involved in sports” or “I’m too old/stiff/out of shape/busy/tired for that” etc… ?   Many parents feel played out in one way or another.  However, while there’s certainly a case to be made for plentiful solitary and peer-oriented “child’s play, ” and organized sports, parent’s who regularly play with their children are doing so more than “just” having a little fun.

When parents engage in play with their children, priceless and precious time, attention and felt love is being shared and experienced in the context of fun.  Tensions can be released, softened and even disolved.  Children receive brain boosts that affect social, emotional and cognitive development.  If they’re engaged physically, the benefits multiply.  Studies have shown that parent-child play generates these developmental benefits:

·         reciprocal positive affect
·         visual, auditory and tactile stimulation

·         means-end relationship learning

·         close physical contact

·         language acquisition, sometimes in the form of songs (and if songs are used, that builds musicality and math skills)

Not only do the children benefit, but the parents and the parent-child relationship benefit too.  Maybe most important of all, when parents engage in joyful, collaborative play with their children, the child receives a powerful message that 1) they matter more than whatever else competes for your time and 2) running, playing and having fun is an important and worthwhile activity for everyone at all ages.
Child’s play is universal, recognized as developmentally important and even referred to as a child’s first and primary language –  for years.  Through our AP Month theme this year, we aim to coach parents (back) into the game, helping them become more aware of the importance of parent-child play while offering fun, easy ways to beneficially engage through play with their families.


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