More than just a chance to have fun, play is serious business when it comes to a child's health and development. From peek-a-boo to pat-a-cake and hide-and-seek to hopscotch, the many forms of play enrich a child's brain, body, and life in important ways.
stimulate the imagination and encourage creativity
help children learn how to respond appropriately to positive and negative emotions based on their experiences playing with other children
teach toddlers to learn to share, take turns, or be a leader by doing something as simple as building with blocks
assist in teaching critical skills such as negotiation and conflict resolution, especially during unstructured play when children, not adults, make the rules
involve exercise that helps to enhance coordination, build muscles, and gets the heart pumping, helping to keep the body at a healthy weight
Play at any age
Play is vital at every stage of childhood.
Young babies can learn a lot just by passing a rattle from one hand to another - watching it, feeling it, and hearing it. This simple play activity helps the nervous system coordinate hearing, hand and arm muscles, and eye impulses; there’s a lot of learning occurring with the simple shake of a rattle!
Toddlers’ play helps develop coordination, muscle strength, and balance through climbing, running, falling, and getting back up again. They learn to manage the emotional surprise of the fall, manage minor pain, and develop resilience
School age kids left to create their own fun are incredibly creative. Make-pretend play like playing “school” or “store” and snow fort building, art projects or tag-type games allow kids to make the rules and assign jobs which require negotiation skills and thinking on their feet. All of the above involve more physical activity than sitting in front of the TV.
Older children benefit from being involved in team sports or other organized group activities like band or drama. By being part of a team, teens learn that practice requires hard work and dedication, that loss requires one to get up and try again, and that persistence pays off with improved performance. As a team member, teens gain a sense of belonging critical to self-esteem. The community of team sports and the team mentality is transferable to the workplace and family life in the future.