Childhood is the time when the human brain develops at a rapid pace. It is the time when children absorb large quantities of information much quicker compared to the later stages in life. In these early formative years, the brain changes, the cognitive abilities develop, and play has an important role in this whole process. Children learn best through hands-on activities, and even though it may not look like it, kids are also learning a lot through play. Fortunately, there are many ways for parents to stimulate excitement about learning, and the list of cognitive benefits of play is long. In this article, we’re taking a look at a couple of the most important cognitive benefits of play and some of the ways for parents to foster their kids’ cognitive skills through play.
It improves their problem-solving skills
One of the cognitive benefits of play is that it gives children a chance to approach the problem and look for ways to solve it. While there are two types of problems, convergent (one possible solution) and divergent (multiple solutions or answers). During one research, the children were given different toys to play with. The first group had convergent play materials, while the other one was given divergent materials. The second group of children was given blocks, and they performed differently compared to the first group that played with puzzles. After playing with these toys, children were tested to see how play affects the way they approach problems. The results of the research revealed that the second group that was playing with divergent play materials showed more success when dealing with divergent problems. What’s more, the second group was also more creative when trying to solve the problems.
It helps them to get creative and explore
Play often involves active imagination and creativity. You’ll often find children creating their own stores or a home, and then pretend they’re working there or doing some daily chores such as cooking or cleaning. They will also arrange their own classroom and teach their class of plush toys, thus applying their existing knowledge to something new. Children often imitate what they see their parents do, and through play, they are able to showcase their creativity. Other than playing make-believe games, children can also practice their creativity using fun educational toys such as the innovative 3D pens. Simple, fun and easy to use, they allow kids to print shapes or anything they can think of, giving them a chance to express themselves and explore their imagination. The same goes for some other play materials such as clay, crayons, or paint.
It helps them improve their language skills
Other than being a great way to practice problem-solving skills and be creative, playing brings another important cognitive benefit to youngsters. Their language skills play an important role in communication with their peers, and during play, children will put their language skills to the test, especially when the time comes for new peers to enter the game, and they have to explain all the rules of the game to them. Pretend play games are perfect for practicing language skills because the child will need to utilize language more than they’re used to do at home, helping them cultivate friendships.
Whether they’re communicating and interacting with other children, using different learning tools, or simply enjoying in various activities with their parents, kids reap a wide range of cognitive benefits through fun learning activities, thus developing a number of essential skills from socializing and sharing to creative thinking and problem-solving. It is evident that play influences the cognitive development of the kids, which just goes to show how important it is for parents to do their best to facilitate play-based learning in kids.