Not just child’s play

Want to help kids do better in school? Don’t forget to shoo them outside to play. Whether it’s building a castle out of blocks, pretending to be a pirate, or riding bikes, play isn’t just good for the body — it actually helps the brain.

Valuable play isn’t limited to structured exercise (like organized sports), and it’s most definitely not playing video games. At its best, play engages the body and mind in imaginative activities that develop a child’s ability to think creatively, work as a team member, and create and follow rules. So if you’re worried your child needs to spend more time doing fractions/practicing violin or karate/diagramming sentences to become a complete human being, remember that kids also need unstructured time to build, create, and fantasize.

As any kid with a pile of mud (birthday cake, anyone?) already knows, play performs an essential role in childhood development. But since we’re all adults here — and it’s easy to forget what children instinctively understand — we’ve culled through the research to find the most interesting studies on different kinds of play and how they help kids grow.


By Valle Dwight

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