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The Power Of Play

A space alien, a princess, a knight, a magician, an astronaut … who doesn’t love a little imaginative play!

As school summer holidays loom, here we go back to basics with a fun activity designed to encourage conversation, imagination, and make-believe. There are many different forms of play – arts and crafts, sand and water, outside play, board games – yet there’s nothing quite like the original game of all games: dress up and imaginative play!

With many foster children perhaps having experienced emotional trauma or having come from an upsetting family environment, play – or specifically play therapy – is believed to help children express their, often suppressed, feelings and emotions. It is often seen as a vehicle to help children with social integration, emotional healing and development, mental growth, trauma resolution, and psychosocial challenges.

Playing dress-up games help children spark curiosity, creativity, imagination and, if they’re playing together in a group, develop social, interpersonal and communication skills. Language and vocabulary skills are developed through storytelling, as children discover, collaborate, discuss ideas, problem solve, and plan together. In addition, children also develop self expression and awareness, and gain confidence and self esteem.

Whether it’s sunny outside or you have a rainy day indoors, let your child be creative and use everyday household items for play. You don’t need to invest in new toys or clothes for imaginative play – that’s what makes it fun! Used kitchen roll holders become telescopes, rulers become swords, boxes become forts, carpet becomes lava, cushions become stepping stones, cubby holes become hideaway places, blankets become superhero capes … the list is endless!

Plato said, “you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation”, so whether your child wants to be a pirate, a prima ballerina, or a rally car driver, inspire creativity and encourage the development of young imaginations.

What other forms of play do you employ? Has creative play opened up doors of conversation or has it helped in building trust between you and your foster child? Let us know your thoughts and ideas; we’d love to share your suggestions with our community.

What do you do when you come home from school or get a bit bored at the weekend? Watch TV? Go on the computer? Play around on your phone?

It isn’t wrong to do any of these things sometimes but it’s good to have a break from digital devices. Technology has advanced so much and become such an integral part of our lives over the last few years that sometimes it’s harder to realise when we need to switch off.

So here are some of the things you can do when you need to take a break from the digital world:

Go for a walk
You could take a nice relaxing stroll through your local park, nature reserve or even just the area you live in. But make sure you’re in a safe environment and never go walking on your own, go with your carer or a responsible friend.

Do some arts and crafts
Get your creative juices flowing and channel your inner artist. You don’t need to have lots of fancy materials or an advanced skill. Just a little creativity and effort can create an artistic masterpiece!

Play board games or sports
Before video games you could have tonnes of fun playing classics like snakes and ladders or Monopoly. And if you don’t fancy staying indoors you could go outside and test your skills in sports like football, tennis or cricket.

Read a book or magazine
There are lots of benefits to reading books, one being that it can help you explore your imagination without the help of TV shows or the internet. Also, some magazines can be educational, so in 10 minutes you could learn a new thing or two!

So there you go! Turn off that digital device and do something different. You’ll be amazed at the difference some time out can make!