• Raffi Bandarian

4 Benefits of Encouraging Play at Home

Updated: Jun 27, 2019

All children need to play. As more children engage with technology at an earlier age, are kids using their imagination to play? Does play on the IPad and other gaming devices develop the same cognitive, emotional, and social skills as creative play?

Children need encouragement to engage in creative play outside of their school setting. Creative play is when a child uses their imagination to create stories with or without toys in their environment, sometimes with other children, and by themselves too.

Here are four benefits of encouraging your children to play:

1. Develop Impulse Control

Creative play allows kids to develop important executive functioning skills, like impulse control. Managing your responses to situations is a keystone for success. By playing games at home, they learn to moderate their impulses. When engaged in creative play, children need to stop and think – vital to helping them do the same in the real wod.

2. Build Attention Span

Creative play primes a child for learning. To learn, children must be able to pay attention. As children play out various scenarios, they hold onto their own scenario as well as that of others. They develop characters that take on various roles all the while keeping in mind the characters of their siblings or friends.

3. Increase Cognitive Flexibility

Children engaged in play practice mental flexibility as they manage changes or shifts in the play narrative.

4. Increase Vocabulary

Creative play develops expressive and receptive language. Children strive to understand the words of their peers or siblings and apply their own descriptions to various situations created from their imaginations.

Children can use all sorts of objects in and around the house to engage in play. As a child, the famous British author, H.G. Wells, relied on the ashes and tossed eggshells in his confined, dirty back yard to engage in childhood games. As a parent, he encouraged his two boys to engage in childhood games of war on their nursery floors and even wrote about it in his book called Floor Games.

So, play doesn’t have to involve expensive toys. Using their imagination, a long pillow case can be a mermaid’s tail. Empty boxes can be spaceships. Pillows from a couch can create a private hideaway. Sheets or blankets can be your child’s fort.

The best reward for any parent who encourages creative play is when their child retreats into their rooms to engage in creative play on their own. Their self-regulating skills can be heard as they talk out loud and act out their own imaginative scenes. All children need the space and security to develop this important part of their minds. Parents can take pride in the fact that they have contributed to their child's development of executive functions.

If you need additional suggestions on how to encourage play at home, seek out the guidance of an educational therapist.

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