The Power of Playing

Updated: Mar 10

Play is an essential component in child development. Playing helps a child make sense of the world around him and fosters social, emotional, cognitive, and physical growth.

The first years of life shape a child's future and makes a lasting impact into adulthood. During this time, the brain is quickly growing and developing. A lack of play and communication can have long term, negative consequences on a child's learning, physical health, and mental health.

Today, we're going to look a couple of different activities kids engage in and tell you a few things they're learning while having fun!

Building blocks

Blocks can be enjoyed alone or with a friend. When playing with blocks, a child can learn a lot! Let's look at what they could be learning:

How to problem solve- I want to make a bridge, but I don't have a long I can build one with all these blocks to connect to the other ones! or, I need to make this higher but it keeps falling, let me put this block here so it won't fall! Of course, the thought process isn't that straightforward and often requires trial and error. Trial and error can teach a kid resilience when faced with an obstacle.

Imagination- Children can follow their own ideas to make wonky, wobbly stacks into big buildings that a dinosaur can knock down!

Math- symmetry, length measurement, comparison, estimation, and balance are all used in block building. These are foundational math skills!

Creativity- They can be moved freely, combined, built, broken down, over and over again. Self-esteem- Children discover that their ideas can come to life.

Social and emotional growth- When played with a friend, blocks can help teach sharing, turn taking, and cooperation.

Big and little muscle growth- Playing with blocks requires the use of fine motor (finger manipulation, grasping, rotating) and gross motor muscles (using arms to stack, legs to kick the tower over).

Playing with dolls

Playing with dolls benefits children of all genders.

Social Skills- Dolls encourage cooperation and are often times accompanied with playing "mommy" or "daddy" and playing "house." This can help children learn to communicate and share.

Responsibility- Dolls can teach children how to care for something- they are responsible for feeding, changing, and tucking the doll in.

Emotional Development- Children can also learn to express their emotions by nurturing the doll. Nurturing is an important building block of empathy. Pretend play can also help a child understand social and emotional roles.

Imagination- Imaginative play fosters mental growth by creating new opportunities for kids to think and problem solve. Children often pretend play scenarios that are familiar to them such as making breakfast, being a mommy, or pretending to be a beloved pet.

Playing hopscotch

Hopscotch is a favorite outdoor game with lots of great benefits for children!

Cognitive Development- The game has rules and a purpose and also requires a bit of planning and adaptation.

Motor Skills- Children learn to use their big muscles (legs, arms, trunk) in hopscotch. Smaller muscles of the hands and fingers are used when a child picks up the marker and tosses it to the play area.

Balance and Coordination- Movements in hopscotch build body strength, balance, hand-eye coordination, and more. Bilateral coordination- which is using both sides of the body in coordinated movement, is also key to hopscotch. This is important for every day tasks like getting dressed but also important for other activities like jumping, riding a bike, and learning other sports.

Social Skills- Hopscotch encourages social development through interactions with others and promotes good sportsman ship.

What's your favorite way to play with your kiddo?

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©2019 Rebecca Cedillo Hope Through Help Foundation