Cognitive Benefits of Play : Everything You Should Know

Emma Davies
Stay at Home Mom

In the midst of all human development, cognitive growth plays a crucial part in the development of social, physical and emotional skills. A happy child is a healthy one and there’s nothing more refreshing than hearing the sounds of laughter with children, whether they’re playing in groups or alone. It’s a fairly easy recipe; essential needs for kids are conversation and laughter, combined with running, jumping, skipping, hopping, climbing and swinging. Sliding is more fun; even if it’s off the furniture; however, parents need to provide kids with a safe and happy play environment, whether indoors or out.  Children need daily play in various forms, during which they will progress their ongoing development.

The importance of playtime

This can take many forms. From reading a story then acting out the characters; to perhaps helping mum with small tasks, or, maybe chatting with toys as though they’re real. Play offers huge variety, but a kid’s playground is probably the best example in providing diversity of play.  It may only have a swing and a slide, but for kids those two pieces of equipment provide them with all the fun they need in practicing their cognitive skills.  They’ll feel exhilarated at being on the swing, flying high and being carefree, along with laughter and familiar sounds of, and ‘push me higher.’  The slide would offer the climbing coordination skills, and present the fun element that kid’s love; and the higher the slide, the more fun.  If in a large play area, then they’ll develop the all-important social skills in meeting new playmates.

Playtime, not screen time

Many urban areas are now built with an array of playgrounds to meet the needs of the younger generation. Play was more free and easy in the past, without the restrictions of today. However, kids of the 21st century have access to so much technology which can sadly decrease the amount of time spent in the much needed physical play.  Kids need a balance of some relaxing screen time, perhaps watching a DVD as a wind down from the day, but having had the all-important daily exercise.

Strong bones, high self esteem, and fighting obesity

A healthy child is a happy one, and when kids are involved in physical activity of any kind, they’re also building stronger muscles and improving bone density. Besides this, they’ll be exercising heart and lung function and preventing obesity and illnesses, such as diabetes and high cholesterol. Sadly 1 in 5 children are obese when they begin school, and 1 in 13 is overweight when they leave primary school.

Besides the physical benefits of play, there are various internal aspects that free play provides, such as a child’s emotional development. Free play has a vital role to a child’s emotional growth, and research has proved that children develop emotionally while playing, along with building self-confidence and self esteem.

Play is vital for a child’s development

Play gives a child a range of choices to express themselves, and to test their personal limits. Besides this, play is fun and allows the child to be spontaneous, either playing alone, with other children, or including adults in play. During playtime, a child is learning all the time, whether it’s a simple game of peek a boo, or shaking a toy, banging a drum, or talking to a pet; whatever the item or situation, the child will be freely expressing themselves,  allowing them to enjoy their own space and in turn be developing cognitive benefits of play.

Make playtime count

Imagination is the key.  Every child loves a new game at playtime, even if they revert back to old games during the play session.  An old favourite is making the sofa or a piece of furniture into a fort with cushions and toys, then seeing their reaction. They may be king of the castle, or the monster in a cave, but they’ll be very excited and may invite you along to play. In all they’ll be developing essential motor skills. Dressing up in old clothes is fun for many younger age groups and the child will enjoy taking on a new image by doing so.  Imagination is all part of cognitive development.

Never mind the weather

Whether it’s wet or dry, windy, chilly or sunny, make a point of going outside. Too many kids are stuck indoors in today’s society and often become bored in the process.  It’s a whole world of fun being outside, and children will encounter new experiences and activities.  They’ll have the best fun, and will feel exhilarated; and so will you!

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