14 Reasons to Play at Every Age
The Benefits of Intergenerational Play - for Children, Parents & Grandparents
- Enjoy your grandchildren- make every moment count
- Stay in good health to be able to experience new things with your grandchildren
- Spend time outdoors
- Let the children direct the play
- Find ways to play away from the small screens
- Make memories through play
- Engage in creative play in everyday situations
- Just make time!
Play is an important part of life, not only during childhood but also into adulthood and later in life.
It is hugely beneficial for children to have the opportunity to play with the whole family, including grandparents. Children learn a lot by playing with people of different ages - improving social, communication and problem-solving skills, bonding and creating shared memories and traditions.
When children have lots of contact or play with adults, they display higher levels of language development and problem-solving skills too. This play gives older adults a chance to reminisce about their childhood, while children can gain an enriched learning experience from interacting with positive role models.
“…Children are 46% less likely [than those not involved in mentoring programs] to begin using illegal drugs, 27% less likely to begin using alcohol and 52% less likely to skip school…”
(Senior Lifestyle, 2014)
But it’s not just the children that benefit. As we grow older, the free, unstructured play that children participate in is replaced by more structured sports and game-playing, which then turns into more sedentary activities like solving crosswords and card or board games, played by older people. Intergenerational play can shift play from being a competitive activity to a more collaborative, playful one and increase activity levels in older generations.
Why intergenerational play is good for young children:
- Encourages co-operation and honesty
- They learn to be a good loser as well as a good winner
- Helps them to understand and later accept their own ageing
- Demonstrate more creativity
- Improves their reading
- Enhances their imagination- grandparents are storytellers- full of the unknown- opens children’s horizons further.
Why intergenerational play is good for adults:
- Promotes relaxation
- Reduces stress
- Helps to maintain cognitive skills (memory)
- Increase muscle tone, co-ordination, reaction time
- Can discover a world beyond themselves
- Gives them a sense of purpose
- Prevents the isolation and loneliness or older adults
- Effortlessly influence the development of a child’s social and moral values.
It is clear that play is important for everyone, whatever our age, but…
“the nature of the types of play that we engage in can change over our lifetime”
With the evolution of digital games, gameplay has become popular for technology-savvy young people and old adults (De Shutter and Brown, 2016). ‘Approximately 13% of U.S gamers are aged 50 and over’ (ESA, 2017). With the older generations now clued up on technology, they can connect with the younger generations in their family. This type of play can appeal to both, aiding cognitive stimulation and broadening social circles.
Those that play with children burn 20% more calories per week, experiencing fewer falls and becoming less reliant on walking aids. Adults who exercise (play) on a regular basis in their middle ages are also one-third less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease in their 70s, meaning increased undivided attention between grandchild and grandparent can build a foundation for a relationship that will last longer.
Children bring innocence, joy, laughter, and youthfulness into any environment and the elderly bring wisdom, experience, and maturity. Older people can also say things that would get ignored coming from a mother or father, giving them the opportunity to replay successful nurturing roles, renewing positive emotions, and reinforce meaning in their lives.
“…Grandparents are great storytellers, enhancing children’s imagination day by day….”
(A Mother Far From Home, 2019)
Storytelling from grandparents, especially when talking about their own lives, helps children open their horizons and understand more about the world. Through their life experience, older adults can bring a tremendous amount of patience, giving children the time and attention, they need to grow, where busy parents often struggle.