It’s been said that play is the work of children. Play is a means of learning about the world, oneself and interacting with others. It’s so important that the United Nations has listed it as one of the basic rights of every child.
At the Edmonton Public Library, we recognize the importance of play. We’ve even made it a key component of our daily five recommended practices for developing early literacy skills.
With homework and extracurricular activities vying for attention, it can be easy to forget about play. But there are plenty of important reasons why you should make sure your child gets to play every day. Read on to learn why kids need to play.
Why is Play Important for Children?
Play—both unstructured and learning-based—can be crucial for child development.
1. Play Builds Imagination and Creativity
During play, children often mimic adults and create make-believe games. When a child does this, they’re stretching their imagination. They create complex narratives around these roles and learn to think in abstract ways. This abstract thinking is the foundation for more advanced learning and problem solving.
2. Play Fosters Cognitive Growth
A variety of experts agree that play is essential for brain development. Free play positively affects neurological development by influencing how the neural circuits of the brain are wired. Free play has a beneficial impact on confidence, intelligence and communication.
3. Play Reaps Emotional and Behavioural Benefits
Regular play can reduce anxiety, stress and irritability for children while boosting joy and self-esteem. It improves emotional flexibility, resilience and provides an increased ability to deal with change. Through play, children can confront life’s challenges in a way that they can understand and process.
4. Play Facilitates Group Interaction
Group play is where kids are introduced to social roles and cultural norms. They develop the skills necessary to play cooperatively within group structures. It also gives them an opportunity to learn about self-control, test relationships and understand acceptable group behaviour. The skills learned in group play can help form the basis of a child’s social skills.
5. Play Encourages Greater Independence
Solitary play can be just as valuable as group play. It helps kids to prepare for social situations by providing a stronger sense of independence and promoting creativity. Children who choose to play alone at a playground can also learn social cues by observing other group interactions from afar.
6. Play Promotes Physical Fitness
Kids love to be active. Exercise helps to promote physically fit and healthy children. Play encourages this activity, giving kids the opportunity to sharpen reflexes, work on movement control, improve gross motor skills and develop greater balance. They also build strong muscles, improve bone-density and increase cardio-vascular function. Encouraging active play can have positive far-reaching health effects.
Kids Can Play at EPL
Play is an essential part of growing up and learning fundamental life skills, so be sure to make time for it every day.
EPL offers a variety of free-play activities, like Lego at the Library, as well as learning-based play activities like Evil Genius Club. Check out the events calendar or contact your local branch of EPL to find a program near you.