Recent research shows play time is important for healthy brain development and that child development in general is significantly enhanced through play. The American Academy of Pediatrics published an article; The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children, in August.
Research demonstrates that developmentally appropriate play with parents and peers is a singular opportunity to promote the social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills that build executive function and a prosocial brain.
Play should not be viewed as wasted time or simple filler. It is truly a foundational part of child development that is:
- Vital for healthy brain development.
- Shown to reduce obesity.
- Useful in helping children reduce and manage stress.
- Instrumental in creating family bonds.
- A positive contributor to academic skills.
As a parent, or child caregiver, making space and time available for play not only makes your life easier, but aides your child's brain and social development while lowering their stress levels. This is certainly a win-win situation any caregiver would be wise to follow.
Pretend play occurs when children experiment with different roles either alone or with others - adults or children. These situations allow children to make and negotiate rules for healthy cooperative play.
Playing with dolls is an example of pretend play where the child takes the role of mother or father, perhaps brother or sister, or even friend. This sort of play happens organically simply by the presence of another "person". The imagination is given space to dream about what relationships look like and how they are successful. Käthe Kruse play dolls are perfect toys for pretending!
Barriers to Play
Our culture would have you believe that all manner of expensive learning toys, apps, and devices are needed to encourage play. But in reality, children's creativity and play is enhanced with inexpensive toys; blocks, balls, puzzles, dolls, boxes, and household objects. The attention of a parent or caregiver is also key.
So put away the screens and the apps and the earbuds and headphones - and engage in play and conversation with children to ensure healthy, well adjusted development!