5 reasons to ditch the screens and PLAY!

This is a guest post about the benefits of play, written by Jenny Silverstone.

5 Extraordinary Benefits of Playtime

Sticky sap on hands from climbing trees.

Glitter going (and staying!) absolutely everywhere.

Always, the sound of laughter.

Playtime, in all of its various forms, is a hallmark of a happy childhood. However, in today’s fast-paced society children often lose the time they need to play. Some may wonder if playtime is truly a “big deal” and has any sort of positive effect on children as they grown.

The answer is a resounding yes! Playtime has many extraordinary benefits to help children in their physical, mental, and emotional development. Here are just five benefits of play.

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1. Playtime Builds Your Child’s Brain

Children acquire knowledge through experiences, but did you know play actually improves how their brain functions and process information?

Studies have found children who play consistently build stronger connections in the brain; these neural pathways determine how information travels throughout the brain and can help children approach future learning with greater ability and confidence.

While some of the brain benefits from play are not always immediately clear, others are! This is especially true in younger children working on their motor skills and visual perception.

A few well-planned activities and games during playtime can help children:

  • Improve handwriting
  • Recognize & memorize letters
  • Tie shoelaces
  • Use buttons and zippers
  • Use forks and other utensils
  • Comb their hair
  • Brush their teeth
  • Type on a keyboard

At first glance, these simple activities seem a bit mundane. By turning them into a playtime experience, your children will not only be more excited, but they will also retain more of what they learn and experience.

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2. Playtime Stimulates the Imagination

Do you remember how a simple fort could actually be a grand castle? Or how a few empty bowls and plates on the kitchen floor allowed you to be the best chef in the house?

Play fuels imagination and imagination fuels play. Why is imagination important? There are multiple reasons.

Imagination helps children discover and discern between what is real and what is not real.

They learn to solve problems and answer questions creatively.

They find ways to improvise.

They process and try to identify with the actions and roles of others.

As children get older, a more fluid imagination helps them confront life’s challenge with versatility and flexibility.

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3. Playtime Teaches Socialization

Play often happens in groups. After all, the more playmates you have, the more fun you can have!

Whether children experience play in a formal setting, such as recess at school, or through a more personal setting in your home and community, they learn how to interact with others in a positive way.

This not only relates to kindness, sharing, and respect. It helps children work together as a team to achieve goals.

4. Playtime Keeps Your Child Active

Nearly 20% of children between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese with some studies discovering that almost half of children in the United States do not get enough exercise.

Playtime can help keep your child healthy and strong. The best way to incorporate active movement into playtime is to get your child outside. When you go outside, you are not connected to phones, video games, or the television. Children can run, skip, and jump!

It is also important to remember physical activity is connected to emotional well-being. Being outdoors can remove stress from your child’s life and help them feel more relaxed and peaceful.

5. Playtime Improves Academics

Playtime is often pushed aside is to make room for study and academic growth. While these intentions are admirable, both parents and educators need to know about the scientific links between playtime and improved academic performance.

In fact, research shows there are at least 250 associations between physical playtime and academic success, with over half of these links being positive. Physical playtime can improve focus, help children release aggression and tension, and improve cognitive functions.

Students with regular physical playtime, most often found during recess at school, regularly perform better on their schoolwork and receive higher test scores.

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The Bottom Line

As parents, it’s important for us to understand how playtime can benefit children as they struggle to grasp essential skills for their future. Even small improvements in motor function and visual perception can make all the difference in your child’s confidence.

Playtime is the perfect time for helping your children grow and learn. So, join with them on their fantastic journeys and start seeing some pretty special benefits along the way.

References:

  1. The Importance of Outdoor Play and it’s Impact on Brain Development
  2. Childhood Obesity Trends
  3. Interview Reflections on Pretend Play

This post was written in collaboration with Jenny Silverstone. Jenny is the mother of two, a professional freelance writer, the editor of MomLovesBest.com and a huge proponent of ditching the screens and letting kids be kids once again.

 

 

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