by Kristin Morency Goldman, senior communications specialist, The Toy Association
With so much uncertainty in the world right now, The Genius of Play is raising awareness about play’s unique ability to bring hope and happiness into lockdown life for millions of families. Through its recently launched “Play Today” initiative, parents are being inspired to fill the seemingly endless hours at home with playful activities that foster creativity, skill-building, and learning.
“Play Today is an online hub providing play tips, expert advice, and other helpful resources for families as they navigate a new ‘normal’ during the pandemic,” says Anna Yudina, senior director of marketing initiatives at The Toy Association, which runs The Genius of Play. “Whether you are a parent of active young children or homebound with bored teenagers, our goal is to inspire hours of fun at home, no matter how old your kids are.”
Aside from fun, play has many proven therapeutic benefits. For children, the pandemic might be affecting them in both seen and unseen ways. Maybe they’re sleeping less (or more), eating less (or more), or experiencing emotional outbursts. These reactions are all normal, given the circumstances, but can be helped if they refocus their energies and engage in mindful activities with loved ones, including coloring, painting, board games, gardening, or cooking. While playing, parents may want to start a dialogue with their children about what the world is going through. A child might find it easier to talk about their worries and fears while solving a puzzle or drawing on the driveway with sidewalk chalk.
And play can be therapeutic for parents and other adults, too. The Genius of Play recently released a PSA, “Worldwide Headquarters of Play,” which illustrates play’s critical role in everyone’s physical and emotional well-being, regardless of their age.
“Stressed out parents might learn that by engaging in playful activities with their kids, they, too, are relieving pent-up tension and anxiety,” says Yudina. “Kicking a ball around outside, going on a bike ride, or simply listening to music together while crafting can be beneficial for everyone in the family — not just for kids.”
The Play Today hub includes a variety of at-home play ideas, including the top 20 indoor activities to get kids up and moving, how to throw a stuffed animal birthday party, how to make lava, how to play “action figure float,” and learning games for preschoolers. Parents who are home schooling their children and looking for new ideas can check out the site’s comprehensive list of educational resources.
Play Today also features advice columns written by experts in the fields of education, child development, and psychology, with articles covering everything from the difference between passive screen time and skill-building virtual play to how to help teens cope during a crisis to how to keep kids engaged in at-home learning.
“Lockdown life might feel monotonous at times, but it doesn’t have to be,” adds Yudina. “The Genius of Play raises awareness of play’s many benefits all year long, but right now it’s especially crucial for parents to carve out time for play with loved ones. Our mission is to ensure that families have all the resources they need to #PlayToday!”
Learn more at thegeniusofplay.org/playtoday.
As The Toy Association’s senior communications specialist, Kristin Morency Goldman leads the development of content for the Association’s print and online communications. Her articles on toy trends, toy safety, the power of play, and more can be found in trade and consumer publications around the world.