We all know that play is a big part of being a child, but have you ever questioned why that is? Research shows that 75% of the brain is developed after a child is born. When the brain is stimulated, it builds new connections, or reinforces previously established connections between the nerve cells.
Naturally, the more stimulation the brain receives, the more developed the brain becomes. And, surprise surprise, play provides the majority of the stimulation the brain receives to develop. That is why play is so ingrained into our lives at such a young age.
Now that I have your attention, let’s dive a little deeper and take a look at what specific skills your child develops when they play. My goal is that by the end of this post you will join our ‘play bandwagon’ and be inspired to prioritize play even more than you already do in your child’s everyday life because you will understand how beneficial play is for brain development. Let’s take a look!
When your child plays in a group setting they are learning how to make friends and interact with peers. Through trial and error they will learn how to communicate, how to be cooperative and put others’ needs first.
They will learn how to share and take turns, how to negotiate, how to resolve conflicts & set boundaries. Additionally, playing in a group with friends creates a sense of belonging, which is something all of us need no matter how young or old we are.
Play also helps your child develop language, reasoning skills, and motor & visual perceptual skills. Furthermore, play can provide an opportunity to practice math and reading skills, and encourages autonomous thinking and innovation. Lastly, play (especially active play such as chasing or climbing) is proven to increase your child’s ability to focus.
When your child plays with others they have countless opportunities to develop coping skills, self-esteem, persistence, and effective self-regulation. Play also increases your child’s ability to control their behaviors.
Last but not least, play is incredibly beneficial for your child’s mental health. Some of these benefits include a decrease in cortisol levels, improvements in quality of sleep, increases in flexible thinking & physical health, and a rise in endorphins.
Clearly play is crucial for our children’s development. As adults it’s easy to get wrapped up in our daily schedules and forget to prioritize play for our children – and ourselves! Making adjustments to our routines to ensure there is more than enough time for us to play is guaranteed to give us a return on our investment.
Luckily for us, there is no wrong way to play, and I encourage you to not let a lack of equipment or space keep you from playing. Sometimes some of the best games simply use a cardboard box & and imagination. Now go find your child and challenge them to a game of tag!