As the COVID-19 pandemic continues on, children and families everywhere are doing their very best to manage virtual learning, to navigate the continued stress they’re under, to ease the impact of ongoing isolation from family and friends, and to create ways to keep children entertained, learning and happy.
While inventive solutions with virtual learning and connectivity have been a lifeline for many, an important tool for helping children learn, deal with stress, survive and thrive is play.
Benefits of Play
Play is not only fun for children – it is the very best way that they learn. It ignites their curiosity and imagination, helps them explore and figure out how things work, helps them communicate and learn how to manage emotions and stress, and helps them build relationships with kids and adults who are both similar and different from them.
Providing children with opportunities to take part in structured and unstructured play helps them develop and build numerous skills – things like gross and fine motor skills, critical thinking communication cooperation social and emotional skills, and more. And, play is a helpful way to support children’s mental health, help them feel less isolated, and help build their confidence and resilience during a time when the world feels upside down.
Better yet? Play is fun. When children (and adults!) play, it doesn’t feel like work or learning or another ‘to-do’. It is joyful, fun, and rewarding.
Port Discovery’s Role
The importance of play – and the many benefits it has for children and families – is one of the many reasons that Port Discovery elected to re-open in October.
With a variety of new safety protocols and procedures in place, we’ve seen firsthand that the opportunities for play, learning and time together that we’re providing to families is essential.
We’ve seen the joy in children’s faces as they adventure through the Museum, exploring exhibits designed to engage their imaginations and minds. We’ve seen families enjoying time together filled with laughs and ‘aha’ moments as they get a much-needed break from the stress and demands of virtual learning and beyond. And, we hear from caregivers that tell us just how much their entire family needed the experience they have at Port Discovery.
Some of the stories we’ve heard include:
- A mom with a toddler who said that her visit to Port Discovery was the very first time her little one had seen or played with a child their own age in more than seven months.
- Families that travelled for several hours to visit the Museum so that their children would have a safe, fun place to simply be a kid outside of the house.
- Several member families that visit Port Discovery every weekend because they feel the Museum is a safe place for their family, and they can see how much their children enjoy their time here.
In addition to offering in-person play and learning, Port Discovery is also offering a variety of programs that children and families can enjoy from their homes and in their classrooms. Those programs are designed to bring engaging play to children wherever they are – and to inspire children, families, and educators to incorporate a little bit of play into their day whenever possible.
We’re thankful to the team here at the Museum and to the visitors, members, donors and supporters, board members, and partners that have helped ensure that Port Discovery can continue providing essential play to children and families in our community and beyond. We know that play is important and necessary for children at all times – and we’re grateful to be able to provide our community with such an essential tool during these tough times. We celebrate the power of play and all that it can bring!