Play is often undervalued in educational programs today. However, it is crucial for the healthy development of our children.
Children play all the time. When you are home with your kids, chances are they are playing with or without you. There is more behind the scenes than just having fun. Play impacts a child’s development in key areas, such as social skills, language skills, and their cognitive development.
Aside from occupying them, play allows children to act out scenes from their lives. Kids can recreate their scary experience at the doctor’s office or pretend to be a mother cooking dinner. Free play allows kids to explore and discover, which leads to the development of their imagination and critical thinking skills.
1. Social Development
Unless a child has siblings, all of their early social skills develop through interactions with their parents. As children get older, they go to the park and play with other kids or enjoy time together at school. Playing with other kids gives your child the opportunity to interact with other kids of a similar age. When playing together, kids learn how to get along, share and adjust their behavior to engage with their friends.
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2. Language Acquisition
Playing and imaginative play gives your child a chance to create their own stories and fairy tales inside of their mind. Dramatic play is when your child pretends to be someone they are not. The child may play house, changing how they act and talk based on who they are at the time. The child may be the parent, and a doll is a child. Kids create such funny, yet creative, stories.
On top of that, children often include language into their play. Has your child ever created a menu for their pretend restaurant? As a child, did you create a shopping list and pretend to shop? My kids love to play school; one is the teacher, and one is a student.
3. Cognitive Development
Playing gives your child the chance to figure out how to solve problems. Believe it or not, neural connections develop while playing. Children can practice what they have learned in other settings or develop new knowledge. For example, your child may realize they create a rectangle by putting two squares together, learning something new.
Creative play also allows your child the chance to act out emotional situations. A child may get in trouble with their parent. Then, the child pretends to yell at their doll. If your child gets a shot at the doctor, he may want to give you a shot and see you cry as he did.
Play is the perfect outlet for your child’s emotional and creative development!