Often dismissed as childish, play may actually be is the most important way for young children to grow, learn about their surroundings, and actually build stronger brains. Play allows young children to hone their attention spans and to learn to focus on specific tasks. When they are at play, children are strengthening their motors skills, visual tracking, and hand-eye coordination. Cooperative play with other children helps to develop creative thinking, problem solving, decision making, and communication skills like listening, cooperating, and negotiating. Despite the growing popularity of expensive playthings, children need very little to maximize their play experiences. Uninterrupted and unstructured play time is important. Children need safe play spaces where they can explore and interact with materials freely. Boxes, spoons, blankets, and bowls can unleash creativity just as effectively as pricey educational toys.
Adults who were allowed adequate play time in childhood are more flexible, more knowledgeable about the world, and are more flexible in their thinking. In contrast, children who were denied play time are much more likely to become adults who are less trustful and less cooperative.
The Take Away: Play helps young children to develop their social, emotional, physical, and cognitive skills. Play-time is an important way to nurture optimal early childhood brain development. Children who play grow into adults who are better able to adapt and navigate through complex environments.
Advance of the science of play. (n.d.). The National Institute for Play, Retrieved from http://www.nifplay.org/science_intro.html
Grace, F. (2010). The Importance of play. Public Agenda, Retrieved from http://publicagenda.org/blogs/the-importance-of-play
Play. (n.d.). Better Brains for Babies, Retrieved from http://www.fcs.uga.edu/ext/bbb/play.php