Who says it’s all work and no play?
Here’s how playing can help prepare your child for the future working world.
Who says it's all work and no play? (Image: Getty Images) (Getty Images)
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When it comes to securing the future of our kids, it can be daunting. Especially when considering what the ever-evolving future of the working world will look like and how we can nurture them to flourish in it. But it’s important to recognise the value of play in preparing them for the working world. 

Playtime is often associated with frivolous fun, but researchers and experts from Forbes, The LEGO® Group and more have found that it can do wonders in fostering the development of skills essential for integrating into society and entering the working world later in life.  

This is backed up by The LEGO® Foundation  and the former chief financial officer for the The LEGO® Group, John Goodwin, who says that helping kids play more “allows them to be more relevant to the workplace and society”.    

So, how does play do this? 

Children learn through play in several ways - games and toys help to hone different types of development - from their basic motor and cognitive development to their STEM or STEAM development. 

Motor and cognitive skills link closely to STEM and STEAM skills as they involve the ability to problem solve and understand, through trial and error and how the world around them operates. STEM refers to an approach to learning and development that integrates the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The LEGO® Group takes it further with their STEAM education - adding an A into STEM for ‘arts’. This initiative of The LEGO® Group focuses on preparing children for the future working world - while also recognising one that’s more digitally influenced and creatively driven. Skills that the STEM and STEAM approaches help to nurture in children include: 

- Problem-solving and critical analysis - Playing games that feature building bricks, like LEGO® bricks, helps children to critically assess issues that might arise while playing and find solutions for it all while polishing their fine motor skills as well through picking up the small blocks. 

- Creativity and communication - Playing imaginative games, like drawing, dancing or playing with musical toys help to foster creativity in children from young. This allows them to learn how to productively express themselves and communicate their feelings. 

- Teamwork, initiative, and independent thinking - Games played with others helps to facilitate teamwork skills in kids. The UNICEF and LEGO® Play Well Report of 2018, finds that children learn faster and more efficiently when doing things with other people, particularly family. And, according to a local occupational therapist, René Lynch-Clifford, “Playing with toys and others teaches children concepts of sharing, patience and taking turns as well as communication skills.” 

- Digital literacy - Games and toys that involve digital play, like educational toy tablets or LEGO® MINDSTORMS EV3 set that includes a robot allowing children to learn digital skills through play. Whether it's through fun games pre-programmed on a toy tablet or, in the case of the LEGO® set, coding and activating a toy through the LEGO® Education division and the available associated programmes and software.

These STEM and STEAM skills, as the UNICEF and LEGO® Play Well Report of 2018 puts it, helps to facilitate further growth and development in children as they age. “Children learn motor skills through long bouts of repetitive play and visualisation and hand-eye coordination play. Though basic, these skills are the foundations for the accelerated growth that follows.”    

So, what jobs can they get with these skills? 

We’re increasingly seeing a rise in demand for jobs that fall under the STEM and STEAM skill category. Some of the jobs sure to be the most coveted in the future working world include:  

Software Developers - The more tech-savvy the world gets the more we’re going to need professionals who can read, write and understand the backend of it all. This is where skills like problem-solving and digital literacy, particularly coding, come into play. This field isn’t just for people writing and programming the code, but also includes User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design - which is focused on improving people’s experience with tech. Skills like creativity and communication would also be beneficial for a software role in UX or UI. 

Digital Designers - While we’re familiar with content creators and curators in media, there’s a rise of new media and virtual, augmented or mixed reality media that’s set to become more predominant as time goes on. This new cyber form of media will require professionals able to produce the new wave of content and skills like digital literacy and creativity would greatly impact a child’s readiness for this.  

Nurses and carers - Although we’re likely to see a rise in digital jobs in the future, there are jobs and roles that can never be digitised or replaced. One such role is the role of nurses and carers who will always be needed to help tend to elderly or sick people with in-hospital or at-home care. The role in which they operate might shift and see the inclusion of tech through data capturing to help create a seamless working environment for nurses and carers. Skills that would benefit these roles would be critical analysis, communication, empathy, and digital literacy. 

There are multiple ways in which play and playing together helps to foster skill development in children that will benefit their working futures. How do you incorporate play into your homes? Let us know via Facebook and Twitter.      

This post is sponsored by The LEGO® Group and produced by BrandStudio24 for Parent24.  

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