Many good and not-so-good things come naturally to your children. For example, they’re naturally curious about the world, but sometimes that means they stick a rock in their mouth. Play is one of those things that comes naturally to children that we often don’t categorize as good or bad. Kids simply do it. However, the surprising number of development benefits from children’s play can help us see play as a good thing. The top five benefits are listed below so you can better understand what’s happening when your child plays.
Playing Builds Creativity
One of the most obvious benefits of playing is that it helps build a child’s creativity. The importance of promoting creativity in children can be seen in how creativity affects a child’s entire life. Creativity is a necessary part of childhood development because it helps kids learn spatial awareness and how to incorporate new ideas into their lives. Spatial awareness helps them navigate the world, and incorporating new ideas into their lives is an important part of exploring their world as they grow.
Playing Develops Physical Fitness
Physical play can also help develop physical fitness. When your child runs, jumps, and climbs, they develop stamina, agility, coordination, and balance. All of this is necessary as their body continues to grow and physically develop. Children over the age of 5 need at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily, and younger children also need physical activity throughout the day.
Play Allows for Emotional Expression
The human brain doesn’t fully develop until after the age of 5 years. That means young children are still learning about their own emotions and how to safely express them. Play can help them develop appropriate emotional expression skills as they interact with toys, other children, and adults. After age 5, play can continue to give children an outlet to express themselves and practice the appropriate emotional expressions they’ve learned.
Play Helps With Problem-Solving
Another area of the brain that is still developing in childhood is the problem-solving one. Play helps develop this skill, similar to how it develops creativity. Many forms of play, especially unstructured play, safely introduce solvable problems into your child’s life. As they learn to navigate these problems, they develop problem-solving skills that they’ll need throughout their life.
Play Promotes Communication
Finally, play can promote communication skills. Play often tells a story and helps our children make sense of the world. As children listen to adults describe their toys, play pretend, and play with other children, they learn how to communicate with others. One of the common misconceptions about playtime with kids is that you need endless toys to promote these communication skills. This isn’t true. Basic toys can promote the same level of communication as mountains of toys.
The top five development benefits of children’s play affect everything from physical development to emotional intelligence. Encourage unstructured play in your child’s free time so they can reap all these benefits.