Why children need play

By Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Mar 26 2014 09:48 AM | Updated as of Mar 27 2014 04:54 AM

MANILA -- Parents shouldn't tell children what or how to play, an expert said.

"Adults look at play as an opportunity not to do work, but for young children, it takes a lot for them to try to do something that they're really interested in," education consultant Dr. Maricar Gustilo-De Ocampo said in a forum at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila on Tuesday about the importance of play in a child's development.

The forum was organized by Kidzania Manila, which will be launched at Global City next year by ABS-CBN Corporation subsidiary Play Innovations Inc.

According to De Ocampo, physical play is important for the development of a child's mind and body. Children also tend to play with objects such as puzzles and blocks.

Symbolic play, meanwhile, is when children use paper, writing or art to express their emotions.

At some point in their lives, they will start playing games with rules, which will allow them to learn things they need to follow.

These games usually work for older children, as younger children tend to make their own rules.

Role of adults in children's play

Adults play an important role in guiding children while playing.

"We should allow children to play now. Not yesterday, not later, not tomorrow, but now," De Ocampo said.

She said adults should also give children space where they would feel safe to make mistakes.

Children should be guided to follow rules, but de Ocampo advised adults to let children make their own decisions while playing.

"You don't tell them what to play and what not to play. It is also better to let them choose the kind of toys they want."

De Ocampo also advised adults to observe children while playing to understand them better.

By observing children, adults will have a better idea about things that a child enjoys.

"Children should play in an environment where they are comfortable, where they are happy," she said.

Adults should also act as co-players, which can help them understand their child better.

Children should be encouraged to play because they also learn from it, she said. "There is more to play than meets the eye because it can be used to learn."

Play also reduces stress and keeps children healthy. De Ocampo added that playing is almost the same as doing serious sports activities.

While playing, adults should also trust children to take care of themselves.

A nation where kids rule

KidZania Manila, which is currently present in 13 locations in 10 countries, is set to open an edutainment facility at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig by early 2015.

KidZania Manila will be a theme park resembling a real city where children can learn and be entertained realistic role-playing of adult jobs.

Children aged 4 to 14 can independently explore over 100 role-playing activities, depending on their interests. They can run the city as pilots, police officers, chefs, news anchors, firemen, doctors or bankers, among others.

"It has its own language, its own currency. It is a country run by kids. Children put together a country because they were so disappointed at the world we, adults, came up with," said Play Innovations Inc. president and chief executive officer, Maricel Pangilinan-Arenas, who is also governor of KidZania Manila.

Arenas said that their goal is to serve the Filipino child with wonderful content experience.

KidZania focuses on three important things: the importance of play, the power of story-telling, and the importance of urban greening.

"Play is a powerful tool where children can explore their imagination. It promotes creativity, and helps children think out of the box," Pangilinan-Arenas said.

Activities in Kidzania are designed based on six basic rights: the right to be a child, the right to play, the right to know, the right to share, the right to care and the right to create.

Pangilinan-Arenas said KidZania will be opened to all children. "We will implement a tiered pricing scheme where public school students will pay lower prices," she said.

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