“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.”
American children’s television personality
There is a wide body of research that focuses specifically on the cognitive benefits of children’s play. Experts from neuroscientists to child development researchers widely agree that play is essential for brain development. Studies have shown that play experiences affect neurological development and determine how the neural circuits of the brain are wired. This can affect a child’s intelligence, ability to articulate and confidence. A leading child development theorist, Jean Piaget, believed that the role of play in constructing knowledge is the most clearly articulated avenue of children’s development.
Brain and Skill Development
Through play, children learn and practice many of the skills they will need as adults. Play helps children develop language and reasoning skills, encourages autonomous thinking and problem solving, and helps kids improve their ability to focus and control their behavior. Through play, children learn discovery, verbal skills, judgment and reasoning, manipulative skills and creativity, and they improve their thought processes. Play helps children learn about consequences and risk, which helps them with decision-making as they grow up.
Cognitive Play Equipment
Certain types of playground equipment facilitate cognitive learning for kids. Research points to activity panels and decorative barriers that improve children’s perception of form and shape, spatial orientation, depth and size, and their visual and tactile perception. Overhead hanging equipment helps kids learn scientific concepts such as the force of gravity and spatial awareness. Swings help kids learn perceptual processes and body awareness through space.
In addition to the social value they bring, playing games in groups and alone can be an important learning tool for kids. Games encourage kids to plan and make decisions; and make and understand strategy, rules and objectives.
“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.”
Joseph Chilton Pearce
Contemporary American scholar