Benefits of Play in Child Development
Play is an important component of child development. For children, it is as natural as breathing. Using fantasy, make-believe, and symbolic play is a developmentally natural activity in children's play. It is a powerful medium for children to build relationships, develop cause-effect thinking, which is critical to impulse control, and learn social skills. This article will be to explore the benefits of play.
Playing stimulates your child's brain to make connections between nerve cells. Such links help your child to develop gross motor and fine motor skills. Most children choose to play through their bodies. Sports and outdoor games help children build strength, coordination, muscle control, and reflexes. As children mature into adolescence and adulthood, playing then helps the brain to develop more connectivity, particularly in the frontal lobe, the center for making sound decisions and planning.
Play provides your child with an opportunity to use their creativity as they are developing their imagination, dexterity, and cognitive, physical, and emotional strength. At an early age, children engage and interact with the world around them through play. It allows them to create and explore a world that they can master, overcome their fears, and take on adult roles, sometimes with you or caregiver or other children. Play helps in developing a "theory of mind." Simply put, "theory is mind" is the ability to walk in the other's person's shoes. Pretend games require them to figure out what their characters think about and do and to understand what their playmates' characters think and feel. Your child's "theory of mind" helps them increase their tolerance and compassion for others as well as their ability to play and work with them.
Play also helps them develop new competencies that enhance confidence and the strength they need to face future challenges. Creativity helps in finding new and innovative ways to do things. The ability to "make-believe"- which is seen in play- takes your mind to places where no one has gone before.
Encourages Group Learning & Sharing
Undirected play allows your child to learn how to work in a group, share, resolve conflicts, and negotiate and to learn self-advocacy skills. In child-driven play, your child practices decision-making skills, discover their interests, and fully engages in the passions that they wish to pursue. It develops your child's executive functions, skills that allow us to manage time and attention, to remember details, and to plan. It helps your growing child learn to master their emotions and use past experiences to know what to do in the present. In play, they are practicing telling stories in a sensible order, using a rich vocabulary. Children with well-developed executive functions do well in school, get along with their agemates, and make the right decisions.
When you observe or join in their activities, your child understands that you are giving them your full attention and building enduring relationships. Through play, your child learns to notice social cues and listen. Observing their world can help you communicate effectively with them, offering you another setting to give nurturing guidance. For less verbal children, play provides a window for you to understand their perspective better as they express their experiences and frustrations through play.
Play is also essential to the academic environment. It warrants that the school settings attend to the emotional and social development of children, including their cognitive development. It helps your child to adjust to the school setting and even enhances your child's learning readiness, problem-solving skills, and learning behaviors.
Thus, one can see that apart from being an enjoyable activity to pass the time, play is vital for child development. It aids the physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional aspects of development. As play is far-reaching in terms of its impact on development, it has been adapted to a form of therapy for children with developmental disorders and the like.
Ginsburg, K. R. (2007). The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds. Pediatrics, 119 (1), 182-191. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2006-2697
Hartwell- Walker, M. (2020). The Benefits of Play in Children. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-benefits-of-play/
Schaefer, C. E. & Drewes, A. A. (2010). Chapter 1 The Therapeutic Powers of Play and Play Therapy. A. A. Drewes & C. E. Schaefer (Eds.). School-Based Play Therapy (2nd ed., pp. 3- 16). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Shafer, L. (2018). Summertime, Playtime. Retrieved fromhttps://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/18/06/summertime-playtime