As adults, we can easily distinguish work from leisure activities or university classes (and education in general). For children, on the other hand, the terms are mixed up, so they learn while playing, as the two are activities are conjoined.
In fact, learning through play is essential for the physical, emotional, and cognitive development of children. So, how exactly do children learn by playing charades or peekaboo, for example?
Practice makes it perfect
Hard work is what arguably the best basketball player ever, Michael Jordan, claims is behind his professional success. What he means by “hard work” is a lot of practice, i.e. attempted shots. Children learn about the world around them and acquire experience much the same way, through practice.
Children start by emulating their parents’ moves and habits and then they polish them to perfection by practice. Play provides the ideal practice opportunity, as kids are safe while playing but they are still allowed the freedom to explore the world and the boundaries of their body and mind.
Benefits for physical health
Children might look clumsy from the adults’ point of view, so there is no shortage of helicopter parents. However, we often forget that we have been bipedal for several decades, while the little ones started walking just a couple of years or even months ago.
This is where playtime can help, as kids develop their motor skills by jumping, climbing, and just moving about in general. Children are still trying to grasp spatial orientation, so playtime is perfect for understanding how the laws of physics work.
Even when they are sitting down when playing, like with LEGOs or in a sandbox they are practicing dexterity. On the other side, walking along a plank or swinging from a swing helps them understand balance. Did you know that the human organ of balance is located inside the inner ear?
Athletes have to practice several times a day, while children have to play every day to build up their core. Getting electric cars for kids encourages outdoor activity that improves their physical strength. Apart from gross motor skills, play increases stamina, endurance, energy levels, and general body awareness. The latter will turn into body care later in life.
Which sports are best?
Seniors often wonder which sports are best for their old age but the truth is, a simple walk in the park does wonders for their health. The same goes for children, as they needn’t take up a sport to reap the full benefits of physical activity.
However, if you really wish your kids to play a sport, then choose a group one, so they can socialize as well. From football to swimming, it all depends on which sport your child fancies. Cycling and light jogging, for example, are excellent pastimes for the whole family.
Learning social skills
It is important for children to socialize from an early age. Before they start school, the best opportunity they get to socialize outside the family is at the local playground. In this sense, playtime is the ideal opportunity for children to learn social skills by meaningfully interacting with their peers.
While sharing playground climbers, slides, and swings with others, kids learn how social interaction functions. The same thing happens at every child care center, where children learn through play. They might necessarily be aware of it, but every time they wait their turn to go down the slide, they are accepting valuable social rules.
Playing with other children teaches your little ones compassion, temperance, compromise, tolerance, and a willingness to share ideas. Heck, even parents will rediscover these virtues while chatting with other parents.
Aiding cognitive development
It is evident that children grow muscle mass and spatial orientation while playing but their brains grow as well. We are referring to cognitive skills such as memory and understanding cause and effect.
When playing, children learn how the world “clicks” together in every sense of the world. Playful children will never try to place a toy larger than the toy box since they are familiar with the boundaries of the real world.
Their senses become sharper and they can process information faster. Playtime satisfies children’s innate curiosity and the need to explore, leading to intellectual development and cognitive thinking. Now, imagine taking that aspect of cognitive thinking and combining it with the physical health discussed earlier… There are programs and apps that do just that. Coding for kids at Unruly Splats combine the physical health of young children and combines it with their intellectual development and cognitive thinking to engage them in STEM education.
Whether it’s the school playground or a playset back home, children use imagination when playing. They imagine they are audacious pirates or astronauts landing on an unexplored planet and the more vivid the imagination, the better.
When children pretend, play, imagine, and create, they are actually learning to think critically. This skill will prove valuable at school and later at work. Open-ended play stimulates children to be creative, brainstorm ideas and solutions, as well as can conceptualize abstract terms.
Reaching emotional maturity
If they play often alone or with other children, your son and/or daughter will reap emotional benefits. Namely, they will understand better their feelings and emotions, which allow them to control them. This can be critical in anger management control, as children aren’t exempt from mental health issues, unfortunately.
Just like they process the concept of a seesaw through play, so can they process an emotion like joy or sadness. When they play football with friends and their team loses, they feel sad, grieved, and even angry.
However, the more often this happens, the better they are able to process and control thee emotions without their parents’ intervention. On the other hand, when your kids get an A at school or win a prize, their self-confidence will grow, while they learn to keep happy thoughts checked.
Finally, parents need to understand that child’s play isn’t a child’s play. There are many risks associated with running around the playground, so children are constantly exposed to the risk of injury.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should hold your kid back but rather that the risk should be a controlled one.
Parental supervision is essential if you wish playtime to yield wondrous benefits in the areas of cognitive, physical, and emotional development of your child.
For children, play comes naturally and parent should facilitate their innate desire to explore the world through imagination. Allowing children to play comes with numerous benefits that help the little ones grow into responsible and, why not, playful adults.