The Importance of Play: How Kids Can Learn from Fun

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Playtime is important to your child’s personal development. Play provides an emotional outlet that lets people express emotions, meet new challenges, and gain a sense of accomplishment. In the formative years, crucial social skills are learned that help your child to make and maintain friendships. The freedom to play is essential to developing many life skills. Below are some of the important ways that children learn from playing.

Preparing the Mind and Body

Play speeds both physical and mental development. Even as infants play with toys in a crib, they learn basic facts about the physical world and their ability to react with it. Your child has a strong curiosity and play is a medium that allows him/her to indulge it. Play is spontaneous and pleasurable. This natural inclination helps to build problem solving abilities and creativity. Running, climbing, and throwing, building shapes from blocks, or the creativity of drawing and painting shapes and figures on paper all help children to develop mental and motor skills and grow into more sophisticated tasks.

Imagination

This is an important part of play. Role playing, using common objects as props for other purposes, or coming up with fantasy scenarios encourages creativity and emotional development. Your child creates images in their minds that express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. They can then explore these images and even communicate them to others through play. Fun activities that take place largely in the imagination allow children to make a connection between events, meanings, ideas, and emotions into a kind of symbolism that they can draw on later. This usually starts taking place even before the child has command of spoken language.

Socialization

Group activities help children to improve their communication and cooperation skills, along with learning about rules. They gradually learn to recognize and manage improper behavior such as being overly aggressive or selfish. The feedback they get from others tells them how they fit into the group dynamic. Trial and error, the reward of new achievement, as well as the praise of others, helps in developing self-esteem. Increased confidence gives your child the impetus to take on new challenges and potential leadership roles.

School Environments

During school years, learning is essentially a product of the interaction between teacher, child, and environment. It’s often a structured learning system with time set aside for play, although more as an outlet for physical energy. The child makes the choices to take advantage of whatever play the classroom environment offers. In Montessori schools like Sammamish Montessori School, however, imagination is encouraged but playtime in the sense of games is not emphasized so much as directed activity. School play should encourage children to express independence, gain self-discovery, and indulge freedom of action within rules.

Play is something that should be encouraged and allowed from infancy onwards. All play helps children to develop the mental, emotional, and communication skills they’ll need in later life.

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