Play isn’t just good for your kid’s body. Play actually helps your child’s brain grow and learn. There is a growing body of research that shows a link between play and the development of cognitive; and social skills that are prerequisites for learning more complex concepts as children get older. Play is linked to growth in memory, self-regulation, oral language, and recognizing symbols. It has been linked to higher levels of school adjustment and increased social development. Play has also been linked to increased literacy skills and other areas of academic learning. By play, we don’t just mean organized team sports and we definitely don’t mean sitting in front of a screen playing computer or video games! Healthy play means making sure your little ones uses their body and mind in active, imaginative play; like playing hide-and-seek, riding a bike, building with blocks or Legos, pretending to be a pirate or princess, building a fort, playing dress-up; the activities that come naturally to kids. This sort of play develops a child’s ability to think creatively by using their imagination, work as a team member, and create and follow rules. Little ones need unstructured time to build, create, and play pretend.
Things Everyone Should Know About Playtime
Children Learn Through Their Play
Don’t underestimate the value of play. Children learn and develop: cognitive skills, like math and problem-solving in a pretend grocery store. Physical abilities, like balancing blocks and running on the playground. New vocabulary, like the words they need to play with toy dinosaurs. Social skills, like playing together in a pretend car wash and literacy skills, like creating a menu for a pretend restaurant.
Play Is Healthy
Play helps children grow strong and healthy. It also counteracts obesity issues that many children face today.
Play Reduces Stress
Play helps your children grow emotionally. It is joyful and provides an outlet for anxiety and to release stress.
Make Time For Play
As parents, you are the biggest supporters of your children’s learning. You can make sure they have as much time to play as possible during the day to promote cognitive, language, physical, social, and emotional development.
Play & Learning Go Hand-In-Hand
They are not separate activities. They are intertwined. Think about play as a science lecture in a lab.
Remember your own outdoor experiences of building forts, playing on the beach, sledging in the winter, or playing with other children in the neighborhood. Make sure your little ones create outdoor memories too.
Trust Your Own Playful Instincts
For a child, play comes naturally. Give your children time to play and see all that they are capable of when given the opportunity.
Play Is A Child’s Context For Learning
Children practice and reinforce their learning in multiple areas during play. It gives them a place and a time for learning that cannot be achieved in the classroom. For example, in playing restaurant, children write and draw menus, set prices, take orders, and make out checks. Play provides rich learning opportunities and leads to higher self-esteem and on a pathway to success.
Here Are Some Ways Kids Can Grow Their Minds & Bodies Through Play
Whether it’s shooting pretend enemies or playing with a dollhouse, there’s a whole lot going on when young kids use their imagination in play. Pretend play uses many parts of the brain, including language, movement, emotion, and thinking. It also helps kids figure out how things work and how they fit into the world, and it lets them explore new roles. Research has shown that kids who get lots of pretend playing time are better at abstract thought and are more social.
There’s no question that playing is not only fun but that it has long-term effects on kids’ learning. In one study, researchers studied that kids who played with blocks had higher scores in math. Another study found that playing with blocks (or other construction toys) boosts problem-solving skills in kids.
How does playing Snakes and Ladders or Chess help your little one? Board games teach kids about rules, decision making, taking turns, and social skills. The games can also help your little one work on important early math skills like counting, as well as color and shape recognition.
Unfortunately, lots of schools are cutting back on recess time to squeeze in more class time. But kids learn more if they’ve had a chance to play outside during the day. Studies have found that kids get less attentive as the day goes by without a break. When they have a recess break, they’re far more focused. Recess also lets kids improve their social and communication skills, by learning to work together as they make up games and decide on rules, and by learning to resolve fights.
With television, computers, and video games keeping kids inside, many are missing out on the joys of climbing on playground structures and trees, jumping in leaves, and simply running outdoors. Playing outside actually boosts kids’ academic achievement and improves their behavior. Studies have shown that being outside also pushes kids’ imaginations and lowers their stress. Their pretend play becomes more intricate and diverse than when they just play indoors. Even when their mud-pie days are over, kids do better outdoors. Students at schools that engage in outdoor activities tend to score higher in critical thinking skills, math, reading, and behavior. Also, kids who have had little outdoor time tend to not do as well in the sciences in college. So even if you live in the city, get the little ones out to your local park or playground for some regular outdoor play.