Why Play Matters

Play is a child’s work.” This adage comes from the early childhood education proponent Maria Montessori. This is the working principle on how she operated preschool education and caring for children. In this fast-changing world, children of kindergarten age often have high academic expectations. The question is whether play still is a significant as it was once thought of?

Here's why play matters.

Improves cognitive skills

When children interact with their peers, the prefrontal cortex develops and boosts connections among the neurons involved in cognitive, emotional, and motor processes. This is a significant process as the prefrontal cortex takes control of impulses and sustains attention. Play supports the development of a wide range of skills. Unstructured play, a game where negotiation of rules and consequences occur, is pivotal in the development of the prefrontal cortex. Play also strengthens thinking and memory. The use of educational toys also can help children in developing cognitive skills.

Enhances interpersonal skills

Play helps children develop skills in socialization. It helps them learn skills on how to handle difficult situations as they grow into adulthood. These interpersonal skills include how to converse and communicate with others effectively and how to share and take turns. Children usually follow rules which means that children do away with deception. If this happens, the dishonest child is isolated from the group while others strengthen their bond. Play also helps in children learning morals and values.

Boosts physical fitness

The Happy Architect Farm - The Freckled Frog

Research also shows that play improves physical fitness. Children get to benefit when they do outdoor, unstructured play. Play is one of the best ways for children to exercise as childhood obesity is a growing problem.  According to CDC, “children should spend at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily which includes exercise, muscle building, and bone strengthening.”

Facilitates emotional well-being

Play boosts children’s creativity, mental flexibility, and empathy. It allows children to process negatives situations and express their interests. Children feel disoriented and at a loss if they feel play is being limited. They feel that they do not control their lives. Children feel their capacity to be independent if they play and find success in games.

Helps them develop skills on learning

O. Fred Donaldson said “Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” Play helps children to develop their social skills, creativity, and their language skills. Children tend to expand their imagination when they feel a sense of adventure.
Parents should encourage their children into play. Through play, children develop language and reasoning skills, encourages autonomous thinking, problem solving and other critical lifelong skills that cannot be taught within the four walls of a classroom.