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Whether you have three kids of your own or are trying to entertain a couple of them at once (perhaps from friends or cousins), you will find it fairly easy to entertain them if they’re the same age. But what if those ages are quite different from one another, perhaps 10, 7, and 5?
There’s some good news here…even with such differing ages, all three children would make leaps and bounds in development by playing together. From my own experience as a father of three young children of varying ages, here’s why playtime among these varying age sets would benefit every child.
When you mix playtime up with younger and older children, the younger ones play and learn from those activities that would normally be too hard for them on their own or with those their own age. Games like catch or basic card games could become easier for the little ones because the older child is offering both visual and auditory guidance.
Among adults, older kids are still just kids. But as the eldest among the children playing together, this mixed play group presents an opportunity to bring out their leadership and nurturing skills. In addition, age mixing lets the big children take on a teaching role as they often have to explain how to play a game to the younger one.
Older children need to articulate instructions in words that the younger playmates can understand. In doing so, this potentially helps boost understanding between both younger and older children and brings them closer together.
For both the older child and the younger children, when they play together, the game could take on a more creative form. I have witnessed lines being lowered to suit the younger child’s reach, the elder children giving the younger child an advantage in a run or the youngest suggesting play ideas that wowed the elder children. At the end of the day, the children come up with the solution to the challenges and play becomes more creative so that everyone could have fun. The older ones help the younger ones learn how to boost their skills and they all grow in their own ways.
Now that you know how beneficial age mixing can be in play groups, you can watch it in action. Things like blocks, Legos, and even Play Doh can help children of differing ages play well together. Board games are great too, even the ones that may seem too complex for younger children like Monopoly.
There are also tasks you can assign the kids together, perhaps for decorating cookies, tiding up the play area or sorting coins which will all take teamwork. Of course, adults must spend some time facilitating the play, setting the rules and boundaries in the initial phase.
Watching these varying age groups come together while learning from one another is perhaps the biggest blessing of all. Beside that, there are plenty of photo opportunities of the children playing together which makes sweeter and memorable memories.
“When I heard my mum’s prognosis, there were so many questions, so many uncertainties," says Mr Tan. "…We were not rich but we had a stable childhood filled with love so there was no question that we would not look after her. Without her, there wouldn't be any of us,"
Watch the Straits Times interview as our FFL contributor, Tan Chin Hock shares why he wants to inspire Singaporean to value their families and do good for the communities. To-date, he has raised $30,000 for St Luke's Hospital, a community hospital that serves mostly elderly patients and started a social enterprise to uplift the poor and marginalised communities.
Tags: Family Bonding /Child Development /Child Education
A father of 3, the Filial Piety Award Recipient strives to be a role model to his children. Chin Hock is also the author of Father (父), Mother (母).
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