Although it might seem like it is all just fun and games, playing is actually an important aspect of a child’s growth and development. Children benefit mentally, physically, and socially from their experiences while playing. Here are five of the primary benefits of playing that will make your child smarter.
Teaches Problem Solving Abilities
Play is the primary method by which young children discover and explore the world around them. Playing with toys helps children discover the relationships between items, as well as differences in their size, shape, texture, color, and more. During the process of playing, children will develop the skills and knowledge that will help them troubleshoot problems and figure out how to overcome them in the future. By working through games and puzzles, your child will sharpen their ability to solve problems that they encounter. While they may be disappointed initially when they fail, children learn valuable information from these setbacks that they can apply to future attempts. When they finally experience success, they develop their sense of pride and self confidence.
Creativity is an important life skill that is critical for problem solving, expressing individuality, creating, and inventing. Imaginative play is one of the primary ways that children learn how to think “outside the box”. One of the benefits of playing roles, for example, is that it allows children to explore and make sense out of a variety of scenarios and outcomes, thus enhancing creativity and creative thinking.
Play involving creative activities has many great benefits and outcomes: for starters, it provides children with self-expression and communication opportunities and helps them find answers and paths on their own. When you give them freedom and full permission to think, analyze and experiment with toys and materials they develop their thinking by trying out new and unique ideas. It gives them a beautiful sense of self-pride too.
Develops Motor Skills
Another one of the benefits of playing is that children develop their fine and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills refer to a child’s ability to pick up and manipulate small objects with their fingers. These skills are necessary for many life skills, such as cutting with scissors or writing with a pencil. Gross motor skills refer to larger body movements, such as walking, running, and jumping.Playing improves a child’s overall physical skills and condition, preparing them for an active and healthy lifestyle as they grow.
As toddlers, children typically engage in “parallel play” when around other children, where they simply play side by side with little communication or interaction. However, as children enter the preschool years, they will start to engage in active play with other children. By playing with their siblings and friends, children also develop their social skills. Playing with others teaches children how to interact with other people and participate within a group. In order to play together, children must practice various social skills, such as cooperation, sharing, creating and following rules, and negotiation. Communicating their wants, needs, and likes to the other children improves their verbal skills and self-expression.
Increases Attention Span
Children have very short attention spans. Typically, your child’s age plus one is the maximum number of minutes they can effectively focus on a learning task before losing focus. The longer that they are expected to focus, the more tired and distracted they will become. As the saying goes, “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy”. One of the benefits of playing is that it gives children a break from structured academic learning. In return, studies have shown repeatedly that after free play time, children are then able to focus their attention longer and absorb new information.
Because of these many benefits that playing offers to your child’s intelligence and overall well-being, it is important to pencil in free time into your busy schedule to allow them the opportunity to let loose and play. Playtime is very important and should be honored daily as part of the family routine, so make sure you schedule it. Experts such as the Nemours Foundation suggest that children need at least 60 minutes of free, unstructured play every day. Make it a goal for your family to establish playtime as a must, and watch your little ones grow to their full potential and happiness!