Play is an important part of growing up, not only during childhood but also into adulthood and later in life. However, as we grow older, the free, unstructured play that once used to fill our time is replaced by more structured sports and game-playing and then turns to more sedentary activities.
According to The Genius of Play, an initiative spearheaded by The Toy Association to raise awareness with parents, caregivers, and educators about the importance of play, giving children the opportunity to play with the whole family, including grandparents, provides a multitude of benefits for both young and old alike.
With Grandparent’s Day on September 8, I spoke to Dr. Amanda Gummer, child psychologist and founder of Fundamentally Children, who explained that when kids have contact or play with older adults, they display higher levels of language development and problem-solving skills. Playing with people of different ages allows little ones to improve social and communication skills, while bonding and creating shared memories and traditions. When grandparents tell stories about their own lives, it helps children open their horizons and understand more about the world around them.
And while children can gain an enriched learning experience from interacting with positive role models, playtime is also great for grandparents, as it gives them a chance to reminisce about their childhood. Playtime with grandchildren also promotes relaxation, reduces stress and increases activity levels in older generations, helping to increase coordination and maintain cognitive skills. Staying in good health allows grandparents to be able to experience new things with their grandchildren, which can build a foundation for a relationship that will last a long time.
Children bring innocence, joy, laughter, and youthfulness into any environment and the elderly bring wisdom, experience, and maturity. So, with Grandparent’s Day on the horizon, remember to encourage a healthy, playful relationship between your kids and their grandparents.