By Gaye Gronlund As a parent, you want your children to learn all that they can—to grasp math concepts, to be curious about exploring the world, and to learn to read and write.
The cognitive benefits of play: In fact, play may function as an important, if not crucial, mode for learning. Here are some examples. Play improves memory and stimulates the growth of the cerebral cortex InMarion Diamond and her colleagues published an exciting paper about brain growth in rats.
The neuroscientists had conducted a landmark experiment, raising some rats in boring, solitary confinement and others in exciting, toy-filled colonies.
Subsequent research confirmed the results—rats raised stimulating environments had bigger brains. They were smarter, too--able to find their way through mazes more quickly Greenough and Black Do these benefits of play extend to humans? Ethical considerations prevent us from performing similar experiments on kids.
But it seems likely that human brains respond to play and exploration in similar ways. Play and exploration trigger the secretion of BDNF, a substance essential for the growth of brain cells Again, no one has figured out an ethical way to test this on humans, so the evidence comes from rats: After bouts of rough-and-tumble play, rats show increased levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor BDNF in their brains Gordon et al BDNF is essential for the growth and maintenance of brain cells.
BDNF levels are also increased after rats are allowed to explore Huber et al There is some circumstantial evidence, too: Chinese and Japanese students, who are among the best achievers in the world, attend schools that provide short breaks every 50 minutes Stevenson and Lee Note that physical education classes are not effective substitutes for free playtime Bjorkland and Pellegrini To reap all the benefits of play, a play break must be truly playful.
How long should recess be? In a small study of year olds, researchers found that recesses of 10 or 20 minutes enhanced classroom attention. Recesses as long as 30 minutes had the opposite effect Pelligrini and Holmes Language and the benefits of play Studies reveal a link between play--particularly symbolic, pretend play--and the development of language skills.
Psychologist Edward Fisher analyzed 46 published studies of the cognitive benefits of play Fisher Kids were asked to perform such symbolic tasks as substituting a teddy bear for an absent object. Researchers found that kids who scored higher on a test of symbolic play had better language skills—both receptive language what a child understands and expressive language the words she speaks.
These results remained significant even after controlling for the age of the child. Recent research also suggests that playing with blocks contributes to language development. Evidence that play promotes creative problem solving Psychologists distinguish two types of problem--convergent and divergent.
Some research suggests that the way kids play contributes to their ability to solve divergent problems. For instance, in one experiment, researchers presented preschoolers with two types of play materials Pepler and Ross Some kids were given materials for convergent play i.
Other kids were given materials for divergent play blocks. Kids were given time to play and then were tested on their ability to solve problems. Kids given divergent play materials performed better on divergent problems.
They also showed more creativity in their attempts to solve the problems Pepler and Ross Kids given training in pretend play showed an increased ability to solve divergent problems, and the converse was true as well: Kids trained to solve divergent problems showed increased rates of pretend play.
Pretend play has also been correlated with two crucial skill sets--the ability to self-regulate impulses, emotions, attention and the ability to reason counterfactually. In the first case, studies report that kids who engage in frequent, pretend play have stronger self-regulation skills.
Although more research is needed to determine if the link is causal Lillard et althe data are consistent with this possibility, and the idea has intuitive appeal.
In the second case, many researchers have noted similarities between pretend play and counterfactual reasoning, the ability to make inferences about events that have not actually occurred. Alison Gopnik and her colleagues Walker and Gopnik ; Buchsbaum et al argue that counterfactual reasoning helps us plan and learn by permitting us to think through "what if" scenarios.
Pretend play taps into the same skill set.Creativity & Learning CHILD OF PLAY is merging a constantly growing team of international artists and educationalists convinced, encouraged and knowing that playing and art are the tools to build confidence and to open the mind of children and youth.
A child's play is a child's work! Learn how regular play helps children learn and see how child development and play go hand in hand in this expert article.
While the fourth type of play is common in early year’s educational settings, the first three types of play hold the most potent learning potentials for young children’s creative development as well as the emotional and social developmental learning which underpin creativity.
Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.
Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children. Despite the benefits derived from play for both children and parents, time for free play has been markedly reduced for some children.
Learn the benefits of playing at the playground for child development and how to use classic children's outdoor games to boost learning. With imagination and creativity, a cardboard box becomes a whole new world for kids. Creative Development in Year Olds Support your child's creativity now and set the stage to foster continued creative development in the future.