Why Children Learn Through Playing

Children Playing at SunsetDoes your school allow enough time for children to play? 

Children learn through playing. That’s why it’s so important in childhood education for children to engage in playful activities throughout the day, not just in recess.  

Some people mistakenly think that limiting playtime for children helps them develop into smart, responsible adults. In fact, this way of thinking can actually hinder their development.  

Research suggests that play-based learning provides more benefits than traditional learning. It can prove very beneficial childhood education. 

Play makes learning enjoyable. This will make a child want to listen and engage. They may even get excited about the task at hand. 

Our society tends to place so much emphasis on production that we often deem fun activities frivolous. This way of thinking needs to go. 

It creates a feeling of guilt around enjoying childhood pleasures. This can last into adulthood and make individuals feel like they should not enjoy life too much. 

What makes play so critical for learning? Read on to learn more about why children learn through playing. 

Why Children Learn Through Playing 

Just as your muscles become stronger through exercise, the brain strengthens during playtime. 

As a child plays, their brains fill with electricity and their neurons fire and stimulate the brain to create connections between nerve cells. Let's look at the biology related to play! 

These neural pathways allow communication within the brain. Each time you use each pathway, you strengthen in. 

The first time you do something, it may take you several tries. Your brain cells connect, and this connection eventually makes the task seem like second nature. 

The Brain Centers of Play 

Where in the brain do neurons connect when kids play and learn? Play creates a significant impact on the parts of the brain that separate humans from animals. The prefrontal cortex is a major area involved in playing. This frontal lobe of the brain plays an integral role in cognition. 

Other areas of the brain that help kids learn through play include the amygdala, habenula, dorsal striatum and ventral striatum. As play strengthens each part, the child learns yet another crucial life skill. 

This often happens in tandem as they engage in play. So, they develop multiple skills at once. 

Why Play Matters 

Children learn through playing in a unique way at school and during child care. Paradoxically, they rest their brain as they activate their mind. 

Moving from a lecture to play feels like a work break for kids, even though their learning centers remain active. Research reveals that taking a break from work increases focus and productivity.  

Kids at school, just like adults during work, start to lose their concentration and lag a little when they feel exhausted from problem-solving. Taking a step away to play will refresh their minds so that they get more out of the teacher's instruction. 

Play breaks also make people feel happier. This enhances morale in the classroom and will make kids more willing to engage in more difficult learning activities. 

Chemical Components of Play 

Play learning also matters because it changes the chemistry of the body. These chemical changes impact health as well as learning. 

During play, levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, decrease. Chronically high cortisol levels lead to several health issues. 

It causes the body to store excess fat, increases blood sugar and causes heart disease. Excessive amounts of cortisol may also lead to anxiety and depression. 

By lowering cortisol levels through play, you improve a child's physical and mental health. This chemistry leads to a longer, happier life. 

Playing also triggers the reward center of the brain; increasing endorphin levels. 

For example, dopamine levels rise. Dopamine regulates emotions, balances body movements, and increases overall motivation. 

Play Is Natural 

Most mammals play. It comes naturally, especially for humans. 

Childhood Play matters because it teaches critical survival skills. Kids engage in all different types from physical to imaginative.  

5 Reasons Play Is Important for Child Development 

We looked at the chemical and biological mechanisms of play, discussing why and how it helps kids learn. But what type of learning happens during playtime? Keep reading to learn the five important types of skills that develop during play. 

1. Motor Skills

Childhood education does not need to revolve around a desk. Play often consists of physical movements. Kids may: 

  • Run 
  • Jump 
  • Twist 
  • Twirl 
  • Bend 
  • Dance 
  • Swim 
  • Swing 
  • Climb 
  • Write 
  • Draw 
  • Color 
  • Grab 
  • Ride 

All these activities develop physical motor skills. Big movements strengthen the large muscle groups to develop gross motor skills. Small movements work fine motor functions. 

Gross motor skills build a foundation for movement control and balance. When children do not play enough, they may suffer from a lack of muscle tone, an awkward gate, and balancing problems. 

Fine motor skills develop precision and coordination. Lacking these skills can lead to difficulty with important tasks like eating and holding a pencil. 

Sports and playground games help the bigger motor groups develop. The finer motor skills come about through activities like coloring and making crafts. 

2. Social Skills

Building relationships is an incredibly important part of life. Developing social skills helps kids make friends, complete daily tasks, and navigate the work world later in life. 

Without proper socialization, kids grow up to suffer mentally and emotionally. It may even impact physical health. 

Through play, children develop these important skills. A few activities help them learn to socialize. 

A game like Charades teaches them to use nonverbal social cues. This may help them learn to read expressions and body language while also becoming aware of those that they give off. 

Team sports allow children to work together in all sorts of ways. As they play, they learn that everybody plays a significant role in whatever you do. 

Kids can enhance their listening skills through games like Telephone. Listening teaches them to take a pause while others speak so that they may respond appropriately. 

Children learning verbal communication benefit from all types of play, especially when describing things from their imagination. Kids even work on effective communication during solo play, as they may create dialect between dolls, stuffed animals, and other toys. 

3. Organization

Staying organized makes all aspects of life flow easier. Think about all the places you may use organizational skills. 

Keeping a tidy home requires organization. If you don't, then you may constantly misplace important items and create stress for yourself. 

Success in school at any age requires organizing skills as well. A lack of organization leads to kids forgetting homework, losing notes, and missing fun events. 

Most places do not want to hire unorganized people. This can cost them money. So, you need to learn structured organization for everything from handing in a resume to completing tasks on the job. 

During playtime at both home and school, kids learn how to organize thoughts and materials. You cannot win a game without sticking to the rules. 

4. Cognition

Cognition plays a crucial role in making us human beings. It constitutes thought, knowledge, and higher processing skills. 

When kids play, they develop crucial cognitive skills. As they grow, these skills play a role in every aspect of life. 

Memorizing makes information readily available to us. As adults, we need it for remembering names, data, and how to complete important tasks. Playing games requires memorizing rules and sometimes various aspects within the game.  

Comprehension adds a whole new layer to thought. Understanding something allows you to master it. As children learn how to play games or think through play, they learn to comprehend all sorts of ideas. 

Kids also need to learn how to focus on a task. Children begin life with short attention spans. 

This makes completing anything extremely difficult. Through play, kids learn how to keep their attention on one taste at a time, so they may get it done quickly and efficiently. 

At the same time, kids also learn how to multitask through play. Once they can hone in on one task, they may take on another one simultaneously, making them more efficient workers. 

Of course, children grow their imagination through unstructured play. They dream up all sorts of wonderful things. This teaches innovation. 

Once they imagine things that exist, they can learn to think abstractly. Abstract reasoning drives critical thinking, which makes for highly successful people. 5.

5. Emotional Regulation

Children learn how to process and regulate emotions during playtime. This sets them up for healthy relationship-building and success in other aspects of life. 

When playing alone, they can use inanimate objects to work through feelings that may otherwise feel overwhelming. Their toys can take on the burden as they think through the problems and learn coping skills. 

Playing with other children offers the opportunity to separate how they feel from how they behave. If another child upsets them during play, they can learn to respond in a collected and appropriate way rather than have an outburst. 

Childhood Educations Needs Play 

Education helps create intelligent and skillful members of society. But we know what all work and no play does to Jack. Now, you also know why children learn through playing and how it helps them grow. 

We don't want to raise dull boys and girls who do not live a life full of excitement and passion. Let's fill our society with dreamers, thinkers, and able little people. 

We understand the importance of a well-rounded education, and this does not come free. Watch a demo on how to meet your center's payment needs! 


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