My name is Anjali and I started Zia Play Along in 2020. Zia is my daughter’s name and I am constantly in awe of her curiosity and passion for new experiences. After years of dabbling in soccer, badminton, dancing and skating, I’m so proud of her for finding an activity that her soul loves: Taekwondo. What a memorable journey it was! Watching her grow as she enjoyed all of these different activities was so much fun as her mother. She learned her own lessons and found her own passions, cementing for me the idea that the process is far more valuable than a product.
Working with young children for 18 years as an early childhood educator, I can’t emphasize enough how much children learn from exploring and experimenting. Through my career and as a parent, I’ve witnessed many of those adorable discoveries where that spark in a child’s eyes lights up as they play and explore. This is a precious moment in their learning and discovery.
I enrolled in an early childhood education program when Zia was 2 years old. It was very challenging to go to college classes while leaving her in daycare. Also extremely difficult was having to adjust to a new country as an immigrant leaving behind her friends and family. The weather, the culture; everything was different. Nevertheless, I am thankful that I chose to pursue early childhood education. It sure helped me understand Zia better!
As Zia grew, I became more curious about the different ages and stages of child development. I continued my education and enrolled in several certification courses related to special needs, counseling young adolescents, integrating play and the importance of free play.
I worry a bit about children’s playtime these days. While I’m not against technology, I often wonder how often we’re giving children the time to enjoy free play. Why is it so hard to find kids laughing, giggling, running, arguing and resolving with a group of friends? I crave the sound of children playing along with each other down the street at the park. Homework and structured activities seem to be keeping children busier than ever and it seems that we have forgotten the fact that children NEED to play. It’s not a luxury; play is required for optimal child development.
Let us not forget the true importance of play in a child’s life. Through play, children learn to make decisions, solve problems, handle their emotions and develop skills that will be crucial later in life. Lack of unstructured, free play is a huge loss that needs to be addressed to make this world a better place. Through Zia Play Along, I aspire to provide children with toys that encourage them to play and educational resources that enrich their learning.
Do you remember how to play? Join me in providing our kids with the time, space, resources and encouragement to explore and discover. Follow their lead and play along!
"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." ~ George Bernard Shaw
Anjali - Founder of Zia Play Along
Nurture creativity. Spread Happiness. Play along!