Children At Play

Have you ever watched the Animal Planet when they are filming young lion cubs play, and the narrator explains how they are actually “learning”?  It’s the same with our little ones when they play.  Playful activities are essential to brain development.  When your child is having fun, she is stimulating the connections made between the cells in her brain.  Just as important, your child is learning to make choices, solve problems and be active, too.

As your child runs around the house pretending to ride a horse through the woods, past the dragon and to the castle, realize that this is all very good for his brain development, but make sure to expose your child to a wide variety of content.  Experts tell us that while playing, we should incorporate art, music, language, science and math.  Each is important for a specific part of the brain to develop, and using play is the perfect way to incorporate this learning.

Nonetheless, allow the actual content of your child’s adventure to be determined by him.  According to Maria Montessori, a pioneer in the education of children dating back to the early 1900’s, “Play is the work of the child.” There are four essential dimensions of play:

  • it should be voluntary, enjoyable, purposeful and spontaneous
  • it should allow creativity, using problem solving skills, social skills, language skills and physical skills
  • it helps expand on new ideas
  • it helps the child to adapt socially

Even over a hundred years ago, Maria seems to have understood the importance of a child at play.  Don’t forget to join your child in his/her adventure once in a while.  You will be amazed at the ideas they come up with, and if you play just as hard and intently as they do, you may find yourself back in your own childhood – chasing your own beautiful dreams again.

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