Kids need a break too

2 year(s) ago
Kids need a break too

With summer holidays fast approaching, I heard my friend exclaim with alarm "Need to find some activity to occupy Aryan during vacation." And I heard myself say "Poor kid……he is going to be put from one routine into another!" As parents, we control how our children would spend their vacations. Children these days are increasingly getting a rigid (often hectic) structure to their day from an early age. School, daycare, activity classes, some television/gaming, and before you know the day gets over you leave little time for idyllic play with same age peers. Parents are not really to blame. With the changing lifestyles, roles and family structures this has become a norm for many urban nuclear families.

While summer holidays are a great opportunity to acquire a new skill, and a summer camp is definitely a better alternative to endless hours of television watching, I wonder if we parents are letting out little ones take a break and leaving them enough time for play.

Play is a range of voluntary, intrinsically motivated activities normally associated with recreational pleasure and enjoyment (Garvey .C 1990). Prominent psychologists (Piaget, Freud, Jung, Vygotsky etc.) have emphasized the importance of play in the physical, cognitive and social skills development of adolescents and adults.

A game of peek-a-boo you play with your infant is actually teaching her about the concept of object permanence. A toddler who seems to be randomly playing with blocks is actually learning about spatial concepts, and building his eye-hand co-ordination. When your preschooler is playing house, she is actually exploring future (adult) roles and laying the groundwork for social skills such as co-operation and sharing.

Several hours of play is equally (if not more) insightful and educative to a child than an activity class that claims to create little Einsteins of tomorrow. Whichever activities you choose for your child, it is important to give your child friendly non-judgmental support. You probably already do this quite naturally in a number of ways.

In our well-intentioned urge to give the best of everything to our child, I wonder if we are making our children passive receivers of instructions and slaves of routine. Is the summer break truly a break for the child? The recent television ad ‘Roko mat, toko mat' always draws my attention. Let us try to imbibe this motto and give our kids a real break.

According to psychologist Jean Piaget, "Play is the work of children". As parents we need to ensure that our little ones are getting enough of it.

Here are a few examples of age-appropriate activities for children between age group 0 to 6 years. This is merely a guideline you can explore numerous variations and combinations with your children.

Age Play Activity
0 to 6 months Sing and talk to your baby, give her different textures to feel,  lay your baby on tummy and get down to that level or spread numerous toys
6 to 12 months Peek-a-boo, place a few pieces of sevai or popped jowar on the floor and let her pick it up (it is safe even if she puts it in her mouth), paste photos, pictures of common objects and family members inside a box or place a mirror and name what all you see
1 to 2 years Pretend play (Pretend to be a rabbit/ flower/ ant/ elephant), putting things in serial order (tall to short/heavy to light/ dark to light)
2 to 3 years Follow the leader, walking to a finish line with a glass full of water ensuring least water is spilt, pretend play (grocery store, commute through auto/taxi)
3 to 4 years Cloud watching, matching numbers/ shapes/ colours, who needs this
4 to 5 years What if….(you had 4 hands/you lived on a tree/ there was no television), shadow play
5 to 6 years Board games, craft (collage, vegetable prints), making your own cartoon strip


In addition to the above, I am sure you are already exploring various Edutainment modules which are available through various means such as Online/Direct to Home Cable etc. You can also try the various products available on

In fact, like the kids who deserve a break from the routine; parents do it. So, here is hoping that your and your child's summer break is all about All Play and no Work.

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Manjiri Gokhale
Manjiri has a masters in clinical psychology from Mumbai University. She has been practicing with the Institute for Psychological Health (IPH) since the last 12 years. Manjiri is a practicing academic and has taught students at the undergraduate level. She has written research papers and her clinical work includes psychometric testing, counselling and designing workshops for normal children as well as those with special needs. She has 2 daughters, a 6 year old and an 8 month old!

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