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Study finds child’s play important to development

CAROL MATROO Monday, March 20 2017

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” This is a refrain that has been heard through the years.

Professor Jaipaul L Roopnarine, a Pearl S Falk professor of Human Development and Family Science at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York and Adjunct Professor at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine Family Development Centre, underscored the importance of play and recreation in children’s lives.

Speaking on Enhancing Children’s Engagement in Social and Cognitive Activities at UWI’s School of Education, Friday, Roopnarine said children spent 18 percent to 30 percent of their time playing, and ten percent to 14 percent watching television.

In his recent study, Roopnarine said 2,400 children from 16 different countries across five continents were concerned about the decrease in play time.

He said children paid more attention to academic tasks when given frequent brief opportunities to play. He said play promoted problem solving and children who engaged in pretend play often had stronger self regulation skills.

Roopnarine said children were more well rounded when exposed to cultural activities and exposed to their ecological niche, playing in their own backyards, in playgrounds, on banks of rivers making mud figurines.

Children in underdeveloped countries who had many chores such as having to carry water to their homes from far distances tended to incorporate play with their work, he said.

The professor said parental beliefs and practices in the Caribbean showed that Caribbean parents believed in harsh punishment and control, praise and reward were infrequent and demanded obedience and unilateral respect.

They also had early developmental expectations of their children.

In the study of his study Play in Caribbean Cultural Communities said some childhood games and play activities were seen across Caribbean communities while others were confined to specific locales.

However, it was noted that despite such activities among children and research data on the benefits of play stimulation for at-risk children, play remained at the periphery of parent-child activities. Roopnarine said children needed to play more, adding that play and parenting worked together in helping a child’s all-rounded well-being.



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