What's Happening in Play
The Undeniable, Incredible Exceptional Power of Play
The benefits of play are remarkable and unmistakable. Play presents your child with an awesome opportunity for growth as it meets the needs of every part of their development, often referred to as the “whole child.” All domains of your child’s development- cognitive, social, emotional, and physical- are intricately intertwined. Play benefits each of these areas in direct and indirect ways, and nourishes skills and attributes that are essential to lifelong learning.
Children learn and practice cognitive skills including language and literacy, problem-solving, critical thinking, and executive functioning. Social growth can be seen in children’s ability to interact with others, perspective taking, negotiation, and compromise. Emotional skills including self-confidence, self-regulation, and the ability to cope with fear, anger, frustration or even desire are also practiced regularly through play. Moreover, block building, drawing, jumping and even playing with Play-Doh contribute to the development of large and small motor physical skills. Play, is the supernova of learning and you don’t need to travel intergalactically to experience it.
The benefits of play appear endless, but here are some of the biggies:
- Play helps your child develop a lasting disposition to learn and promotes desire, motivation and mastery.
- Play validates what your child already knows, and encourages trying out the unknown, building confidence in her own abilities.
- Play reveals divergent thinking- the thinking responsible for creative ideas- and often takes the lead when playing.
- Play encompasses relevant knowledge in math, science, literacy and other subjects.
There are several types of play, each of which has significant value in the development of fundamental skills and abilities both children and adults rely on every day. The following is an overview of the benefits for four main types of play. Further information on these can be found in Dr. Rachel White’s research summary, “The Power of Play."
Object Play - the active, playful manipulation of objects such as a ball, block, toy car or doll.
- Learning about the nature of objects
- Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM)
Pretend Play - enacting different people, places or times and creating alternative realities to real world.
- Language and literacy
- Executive Function
- Social Understanding and Interactions
- Creative Thinking
Physical Play- large motor activity in a playful context such as running, jumping, kicking and climbing.
- Muscle growth
Social Play- play that occurs in the interaction of children with adults or other children.
“The Power of Play: A Research Summary on Play and Learning” written by Dr. Rachel E. White from the Institute of Child Development at University of Minnesota, is a unique and robust compilation of published research on the major types of play for young children and related learning benefits.
We are eager to share this research to extend the profound insights of play to all caring adults in a child’s life so that together we can join forces and strengthen even further our ability to offer and support children in their personal learning experiences.