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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

10 Reasons Why Play and Learning Go Hand in Hand

Photo by davitydave (Flickr)

When we watch our kids play, we think they're simply having fun. However, play helps our kids learn and is essential to their development. Consider these ten reasons why play and learning go hand in hand.

Prepare for School

As preschoolers, my girls honed their counting skills as they stacked block towers, learned shapes and colors while sorting magnets, and improved their concentration and memory while reading books. These lessons gave them a strong foundation when they started school.

Develop Social Skills

My girls enjoy playing alone, but they also shoot hoops, play board games, and jump rope with each other, neighbors, and friends. Through these social games and activities, they learn how to share, negotiate, and handle conflict, social skills that will help them succeed on and off the playground.

Experiment With Cause and Effect

When kids drop a ball, they learn that it bounces. Similarly, they discover that sand stacks better if it's wet and a doll's hair won't grow back after it's cut. These and other playtime examples of cause and effect help kids make important connections in academic, social, and everyday settings.

Learn Safe Practices

While baking cookies, riding bikes, and climbing jungle gyms, my girls learn kitchen safety tips, the importance of wearing a helmet, and how to climb safely. I love that they can use these and other safety skills for years to come.

Discover Unique Abilities and Interests

I introduce my girls to a variety of different playtime activities, such as sports, crafts, and manipulative toys, so they can discover their unique abilities and interests. This knowledge boosts their self-esteem and may even shape their future careers. Those are great outcomes from play!

Reduce Stress

Our kids face increasing demands that increase stress, anxiety, and frustration. Free time to play allows our kids to relax and unwind, and it provides a healthy outlet for emotions. I also appreciate that my girls now realize that they can use play as a coping skill for the rest of their lives.

Gain Body Awareness

When my girls first learned to walk, they stumbled a lot. They had to practice moving, which built their muscle control, balance, and coordination. Play gives kids the same result. Our children learn how their bodies move and discover their bodies' capabilities and limitations as they run, jump, and ride.

Develop Perseverance

My older daughter decided to learn origami last year. At first, she struggled with even basic folds, but she persevered and now creates intricate animals. This example demonstrates how play motivates our kids to develop perseverance as they tackle new challenges and master new skills.

Practice Fine Motor Skills

Building block houses, coloring pictures, and manipulating toy cars require precise movements. This fine motor skill practice equips our kids to feed themselves, tie their own shoes, and hold a pencil.

Hone Creativity and Imagination

I want my girls to think outside the box as they solve problems and navigate life challenges. That's why I encourage them to play. Making up stories to act out, creating dialogue for dolls, and fighting off imaginary dragons in their playground fort hones their creativity and imagination.

The next time you watch your kids play, remember that they're doing more than having fun. They're learning naturally through their playtime activities. In addition to these ten ways, what other ways do you see your kids learn through play?

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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