Even though parents might not always associate playing as educational, it’s extremely beneficial when it comes to learning, especially in younger children. In fact, even early in development, a child’s mind is expanding just by looking at their environment and taking in their surroundings, meaning learning through play is an important part of any child’s development. Through the use of educational toys, books and games, children can learn problem solving, fine motor skills and how to be creative. Here’s 5 benefits to consider when it comes to incorporating play into learning for younger children.
1. Encourages Communication
Play allows children the opportunity to develop speech and language skills, as they’re constantly talking and listening as they’re interacting. Whether this is during solitary play which typically involves self-talk and narration, or playing with other children and adults, being able to communicate adds purpose to their play. It’s also important to note that the more vocabulary a child is exposed to on a daily basis, the greater the variety of words a child will incorporate into their play. Even as your children enter school, play continues to be important in their learning journey. In fact, research shows students pay more attention to their work after an unstructured play break as it helps ignite curiosity.
2. Builds Imagination and Creativity
During play, kids really engage their imaginations, which means they’re constantly being creative. Whether they’re creating make-believe games or making their own rules up while they’re playing- doing so can also help boost their confidence too. Being creative and having the ability to easily use their imaginations, will not only help your child succeed throughout life, but enable them to thrive at school, especially in more creative subjects.
3. Improves Cognitive Development
Children who engage in pretend play tend to have more sophisticated levels of interaction with others, especially as it can help a child’s brain develop in positive ways. Play not only strengthens and increases neural connections in the brain, which are the paths used for thinking, it also helps build and strengthen the prefrontal cortex. This area influences the way a child learns, solves problems and gains knowledge about their environment- meaning the benefits of your child having unstructured playtime are huge!
4. Encourages Relationship Building
Incorporating play into learning will be sure to help with the development of your child’s social skills. Children who play with their parents and peers learn how relationships work through their play experiences. As play becomes more important in a child’s life, an increase in the number and quality of friendships are usually seen.
5. Provides Emotional and Behavioural Benefits
Finally, frequent, daily play can help reduce anxiety, stress and irritability in children. At the same time, it also helps boost joy and self-esteem. This is because through play, children learn how to navigate the world in a way they can understand and process, meaning they explore how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to solve conflicts and to speak up for themselves.