The pandemic stopped a lot of things. It stopped people from visiting their loved ones. It prevented restaurants from serving at total capacity. It stopped employees from being able to go to work in person.
At the start of the pandemic, no one knew how long it would take to go back to all of the normal human activities again. Although COVID-19 put a pause on daily events, it didn’t disrupt playtime for kids.
Children need playtime in their lives. It’s essential to their physical, mental, and emotional development. Though children and parents faced challenges with playtime during the pandemic, kids could still find a way to get out their energy through playtime.
How the Pandemic Affected Playtime
Suddenly, your kids weren’t allowed to go to parks, have playdates with their friends or even go to school for classes and recess. School closures and the social distancing mandate impacted children’s ability to play with others and socialize over the past year.
You probably got asked millions of questions from your children, like ones about the virus itself, when they can go back to school, why they can’t play with their friends, and so on. Fortunately, you were not alone in this, and other parents and researchers gave suggestions on how to handle those topics.
The coronavirus doesn’t affect children’s health as severely as it does in older adults or those with preexisting conditions. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended that children still follow protocol for fear of spreading the virus between children and then eventually to their loved ones.
Kids had a lack of access to play environments, which led to a restricted range of the type of play children could experience. Of course, your children likely played indoors, whether that was through video games, puzzles, coloring books, or other board games.
Although those types of play are essential, especially for a child’s mental development, they lacked physical play. They weren’t able to visit the local playground to run, jump, climb, swing or slide, all of which help them develop their bones and muscles, and coordination skills.
Additionally, another significant aspect of playtime with other kids is their socialization skills. Without playtime, your kids weren’t able to interact with others in-person to build vocabulary and learn how to talk with other kids.
The Importance of Play in Children’s Lives
Play is still vital despite social distancing and other restrictions. During the pandemic, your child still needs to play! Through simple games and playtime activities, children learn how to think and act creatively.
When your child plays, they develop their bodies and learn how to deal with emotions. Though playtime is just a time to have fun from your child’s perspective, they’re learning a great deal about how the world works and how they fit into it.
Cognitively, your child learns critical thinking skills. When you play a card game or board game, many learning factors are included, like numbers, memory, and overall how the game works. Additionally, your kids pretend and create things from their own imagination, which helps them exercise cognitive skills.
Physical activity is another considerable part of playtime. When your kids play, they develop their fine and gross motor skills. Play encourages movement, and it’s an excellent way for your children to get exercise.
Playtime also provides social and emotional benefits. Your children learn how to interact with others. Plus, they can understand and process emotions, like if they lose a game or get a bump or scrape.
How Kids Can Still Play During COVID-19
Fortunately, there are still plenty of ways for your kids to play during COVID-19. The pandemic hasn’t put a complete stop to playtime. Now that many people have received a vaccine, it is safer for children to meet up in person for playtime or go to the local parks. Still, be cautious and practice social distancing if you’re not vaccinated. Here are some ways kids can still play during COVID-19:
- Playground or home playset: Now that restrictions have been lifted, and as long as you feel safe, you can take your kids to a playground. If you don’t want to take them to a public park, ask family friends if they have a home playset or invest in one for your kids.
- Video games: Video games are great for kids as long as they’re age-appropriate. Limit your kids’ screen time, and let them play a video game, which works on their cognitive skills and reaction time.
- Family game nights: Host family game nights with your children. Play games like Go Fish, Monopoly, Twister, or any other board game your child enjoys playing.
- Toys: Your children likely have tons of toys to play with on their own or with their siblings. Join in with them as they create their own world or scenarios with their toys.
- Virtual playdates: Your child and their friends can have virtual playdates with their friends. The Internet is full of great games and apps, so children can virtually play together.
- Outdoor games: The great outdoors holds a wealth of natural play materials for your kids. Get outside for a hike in the woods or have them play a sport.
There are still so many ways that kids can play even in a pandemic. That’s why COVID can’t stop playtime. Children have even taken their play to the next level by incorporating the restrictions of the pandemic into their play routines and imagination.
Playtime During a Pandemic
Although the pandemic altered the ways your kids play, it didn’t stop playtime completely. Kids have adapted to the new normal, and they always find ways to get out their energy by playing.