Every child likes to play and we now know that it is a practice we should encourage for many reasons. One of the most important ones is that by playing our children actually learn and boost their cognitive development. This development, in turn, has a great positive effect on other skills, such as social and problem-solving ones. So, next time your child wants to play, be thankful because it will do them a world of good. However, not every play-based activity is equally beneficial and we should definitely learn to recognize what can have the best impact on our children’s cognitive development, i.e. their learning and thinking.
What is the effect of playing on cognitive development?
Around the time when they start school, children seem to be most engaged in playing, they absorb large quantities of information and they do it very quickly. To them, playing (and learning) is an adventure they are only too happy to embark on. Finding out new things and understanding how things work makes them excited and play is one of the main sources of learning at that stage. We should understand that some learning at that age is more formal than it used to be, but the play remains vital to their cognitive development since it helps them learn how to think, comprehend, socialize and express themselves. When playing with their peers they primarily develop their social skills, but playing with parents can help them check their knowledge and help them better comprehend something they learned at school. This is crucial for two reasons. The first is that the child’s cognitive developments get huge boos, while the other is the element of strengthening the bond with them and their parents.
How to encourage learning in children?
We can’t expect children to always pick a type of play-based activity that would stimulate their cognitive development simply because they always opt for those activities they know and what they see as fun ones. That’s where parents have to step in and incorporate a wide range of activities into the children’s daily routines in order to encourage their thinking. Puzzles are one of the best games for that and almost all children love putting them together, especially when doing it with their parents. This activity activates their brain, engages both brain hemispheres and enhances their memory. There are also many other great educational toys for children, which are not only entertaining but also stimulate excitement about learning, thus boosting the child’s thinking. Board games are also fantastic and so is a sport, while there are opposing opinions when it comes to computer games. While they certainly have their merits, too much screen time can also have very detrimental effects on the child’s development. Whatever games you choose for your child, make sure they are in line with the child’s personal interests and that they are stimulating.
Why is play effective when it comes to teaching?
Children have an innate inclination towards investigating and exploring. Everything around them fascinates them and they are usually very happy to engage in different environments to test themselves and their skills. They also don’t see playing as learning, which is why they don’t associate boredom and tediousness with it. Luckily, they can play and learn without actually being aware they are learning. This allows them to stay focused for longer, which inevitably leads to better results. Their activities are intrinsically motivating and flexible, giving them a chance for self-directed free play. Older children, on the other hand, consider learning strenuous, which makes them less likely to focus on what they’re learning. So, each time a child can gain knowledge without feeling it’s their duty to learn, you can count on them to use the opportunity.
As you can see, there are many different things that parents can do to support their child’s cognitive development. Playing with them is definitely one of the most beneficial activities, but providing toys that encourage learning should also be among parents’ priorities. Many play-based activities encourage your child to think through play and different children will develop at different paces, but the most important thing is that they will engage their brains through entertaining activities.
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