Care-a-lot’s after-school program provides a variety of activities for children. Upon their arrival, children can meet their need for quiet time and relaxing by enjoying a soft chair, reading a book or expressing themselves with a creative project.
Children also need opportunities for free play to use their muscles and release their energy through more vigorous and rough play. Sometimes called roughhousing, horseplay, or play fighting, children are using their bodies to learn through this activity. With school-agers, the play often involves running, chasing, fleeing, wrestling, tagging, swinging, and falling to the ground— often on top of each other!
As in all appropriate play, rough play shares these characteristics; when children involve their bodies in this vigorous, interactive, very physical kind of play, they build a range of skills. Children learn physical skills—how their bodies move and how to control their movements. They also develop language skills through signals and nonverbal communication, including the ability to perceive, infer, and decode. Children develop social skills through taking turns, playing dominant and subordinate roles, negotiating, and developing and maintaining friendships. With boys especially, rough play provides a venue for showing care and concern for each other as they often hug and pat each other on the back during and after the play.
Because at times this play may resemble fighting, some adults find it to be one of the most challenging of children’s behaviors. In spite of its bad reputation, rough play is a valuable type of play—one teachers and families need to understand and support. Adults need to understand the importance of tumble play and allow it to happen under appropriate supervision. Parents can also engage their child in this play and role model appropriateness. Enjoy vigorous activity together as children use their physical outlet to grow and learn!