Isn’t playtime the best? Your kid definitely thinks so. And according to recent research, you should definitely agree! New studies are showing more and more that play isn’t just a fun activity for kid; it’s actually a very important and necessary learning experience. So important in fact, that the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights has stated that play is a basic right of every child.
What is it about play that is so important for young children? For starters, so much development happens in a child’s brain when they engage in playtime. It also has the added benefit of being fun, so kids actually want to do it! Play is essentially a young kid’s job; just as you wake up every morning and spend your day doing a job at work, children wake up and begin to engage in different forms of play throughout the day. Let’s look at a few ways a child develops through different types of play.
Social Development. Let’s face the facts: kids can be selfish. Children don’t immediately have the desire to put others first and share their toys; they learn these things over time. While it is true that we can teach our kids to share and cooperate with other kids, nothing will accelerate that process quicker than playing with others. When kids engage in play with others, it subconsciously urges them to become more social, as well as more thoughtful of others. They begin to realize the importance of sharing and simply watching others. It shows them that working on a team with others really is more productive than trying to do everything themselves. It also helps them learn to properly communicate with their peers and work together towards a shared task. All of these things are crucial to social development.
Cognitive Development. Play stimulates brain development. Considering we are completely void and useless without our brains, we think this is pretty important! Children learn so much in early, formative years of their lives, and so much of this learning simply happens through playing! Kids learn textures by playing with various objects and toys. They learn about shapes and size by playing different blocks and puzzles. Through different types of educational toys, they can learn numbers, the alphabet, animals, and so on. On top of all that, children can enhance both their fine and large motor skills by playing. This ranges from knowing how to grip a pencil all the way to running across a field. Developing these skills more strongly at a young age will heavily influence the way they learn and interact as they grow older.
Creative Development. Sometimes when listening to your favorite music artist or looking at a beautiful painting, you will think to yourself “that person was born creative.” While it is true that we are all naturally gifted with certain traits and abilities, you can absolutely enhance your child’s creativity using different forms of play. One style of play we are very fond of, open-ended play, is by far the best way to do this. Essentially there are no rules or restrictions; a child just does whatever their brain will allow them to do. You can give them a costume, an instrument, some blocks, or really any kind of open-ended toy, and just let them play to their heart’s desire. What you will find is they will begin to create certain scenarios, stories, and characters by simply using their imagination. The more a child does this, the more their creativity will grow and grow.
Play is extremely necessary for young children. As parents, we want to encourage them to play. Go outside with them, listen to their stories, do puzzles, play ball! All of these will help develop their brains, really preparing them for their futures. These developments are extremely important on so many levels, so let’s encourage our children to play to their heart’s desires!