Monique Tait

Monique Tait

May 8, 2023. 4 mins read

Parenting

The Power of Playtime: Why Play is so Important to Kid's Learning

As an adult, do you dream about returning to a more carefree time when your days consist of more play than work? Watching your kids play tag, set up a pretend shop, or draw fanciful masterpieces may seem like it's all fun and games (and to them, it is). But these playful tasks are also massive learning opportunities. Renowned child psychologist Jean Piaget said it best, "Play is the work of children."

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Play, for children, enables them to build essential aspects of themselves. Play is vital to children's emotional, social, physical, and cognitive development. It's also a significant factor in how kids process the world around them, expand their creativity, and spark their imaginations.

So, parents, it's time to kick off your shoes, let loose, and channel your inner Blippy. Here are five reasons why your children need to play.

Five Significant Benefits of Play for Children

Kids don't need any reasons to play. They'll happily play all day long if you give them a chance. But sometimes, it's tempting to stop the playtime because we think we should be doing something "productive" with our kids. 

You know how it goes. Those little nagging thoughts start to creep into the back of your mind. Should you be reviewing that maths problem or going over ABCs? Maybe it's time to practise handwriting or counting. However, the beauty of playtime is that it is highly productive for children. The importance of play-based learning for children is limitless because it develops the whole child.

1. Brain Development

Studies suggest that free play has a major effect on children's brain development. Engaging in unstructured play experiences allows kids to experiment, problem-solve, and process the world around them.

It's simple to do, too. Give your children things like wooden spoons, bowls, paper towel tubes, etc., and then give them space. Let them experiment and try out various activities. Items like puzzles and blocks are also excellent ways to enrich children's cognitive development. 

These activities help build problem-solving skills, memory, concentration, and spatial awareness. Play experiences introducing real-world concepts and tasks are also excellent ways for children to learn. These include helping bake a cake, cooking a meal, or even cleaning the house. Kids learn about counting, measuring, and more as they learn essential life skills.

2. Social Development

Engaging with others through play also provides excellent social development for children. For example, when children set up a pretend shop, they take turns being the shopper and cashier, learning how to share. 

Kids build communication skills as they talk to each other during different play activities. For example, children discuss various ways to build a structure out of blocks or give a voice to dolls during a tea party. These seemingly routine play scenarios actually enable kids to learn how to have conversations, build their vocabulary, and improve their literacy skills. 

3. Physical Development

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, one of the primary factors influencing childhood obesity is insufficient physical activity. But this doesn't mean you need to make your kids start some challenging exercise regimen (heck, even most adults don't enjoy being forced to work out).

But the good news is that play is a fun way to encourage physical development for children. Kids can create and run through ninja obstacle courses, build forts for an impending battle, and go on a nature scavenger hunt.

Riding bikes and scooters helps build endurance, stamina, and balance. Pretending to hike through the Amazon Rainforest as they explore a local park gets kids moving. All sorts of pretend adventures are wonderful for strengthening gross motor skills.

Play also aids the development of fine motor skills. Sculpting and creating with playdough, stretching and squishing slime, and building with blocks strengthen hand muscles and help kids develop their pincer grasp. These skills are essential for setting the stage for future development, aiding in things like handwriting and critical life skills like feeding and dressing oneself.

4. Emotional Development

Role-playing games help kids learn how to express themselves and react to others more empathetically. Acting out some of your children's favourite stories allows them to learn how to process and grapple with their feelings. 

Another way to help strengthen the emotional development of children is by using puppets. Playing with puppets is tons of fun, but it also gives kids an outlet to express themselves that is a bit more comfortable for them.

Playing house, school, and doctor set up opportunities for empathetic learning. Children take on various caregiver roles during these games, nurturing compassion and thoughtfulness.

5. Creativity and Imagination

Unstructured play also provides excellent chances for children to develop their imaginations and explore their creativity. When kids are bored, some of the most amazing things happen. Kids come up with some of the most exciting and clever games. Give a child a cardboard box, and soon you'll have a pirate ship, rocket, or ice fort.

Many play experiences provide tons of imaginative play for children. Kids build tents out of blankets and sofa cushions, turn books into stepping stones across a carpet of lava, or imagine the family dog is the elusive Yowie.

Free-form arts and crafts are another excellent way to unleash your child's creativity. Roll out a piece of paper, put down some supplies, and watch what unfolds. If your little artist cranks out a bunch of masterpieces, check out these tips for storing children's artwork.

When your kids want to play, embrace it as a fantastic learning opportunity. Make playtime a priority each and every day. Encourage child development through play by introducing various games and allowing children to interact and explore their world.

Whether playing with blocks, puzzles or creating a made-up game using sticks and leaves, play for children is extremely valuable. Who knows, you might even start feeling like a kid again.

Monique Tait

Monique Tait

Mothering . Wife . Founder . Chicken Wing Aficionado .

When she's not scouring the city for the best fried chicken joint, she's busy being a parenting superhero, starting with her new toy swapping app called Sassybae. Because let's be real, what better way to show your love for your kids than by swapping out their old toys for new ones? Monique is on a mission to make parenting easier, one wing and one toy at a time.

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