Children naturally learn though play. Through play children can develop social and cognitive skills, mature emotionally, and gain the self-confidence required to engage in new experiences and environments according to researchers.
Plus, as children play, they learn to solve problems, social skills and develop the fine and gross motor skills needed to grow and learn, says researchers at UC Davis.
The following are some of the key benefits of play for children, as outlined by the UC Davis Children’s Hospital:
Develop physical skills. Gross motor skills are developed as a child learns to reach, grasp, crawl, run, climb and balance. Fine motor skills are developed as children handle small toys.
Develop cognitive concepts. Children learn to solve problems through play. Children also learn colors, numbers, size and shapes. They have the ability to enhance their memory skills as well as their attention span. Children move on to higher levels of thought as they play in a more stimulating environment.
Develop language skills. Language develops as a child plays and interacts with others. This begins with parents playing cooing games with their children and advances to practical levels such as telling make-believe stories and jokes.
Develop social skills. Learning to cooperate, negotiate, take turns and play by the rules are all important skills learned in early games. These skills grow as the child plays. As a result, children learn the roles and rules of society.
In the book Einstein Never Used Flash Cards, there are five elements of children’s play:
- Play must be pleasurable and enjoyable.
- Play must have no extrinsic goals; there is no prescribed learning that must occur.
- Play is spontaneous and voluntary.
- Play involves active engagement on the part of the player.
- Play involves an element of make-believe.
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