The Importance of Play

For small children, playing is learning. Play has proved to be a critical element in a child’s future success. Play helps kids develop muscle strength and coordination, language, cognitive thinking, and reasoning abilities.

“Research on the brain demonstrates that play is a scaffold for development, a vehicle for increasing neural structures, and a means by which all children practice skills they will need in later life,” according to the Association for Childhood Education International. Play also teaches children how to interact and cooperate with others, laying foundations for success in school and the working world.

Almost half of Pre-schoolers do not play outside daily, according to research presented in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine this week and noted Dr. Sanjay Gupta with CN&N Health, due to a variety of factors, including a hurried lifestyle, changes in family structure, and increased attention to academics and enrichment activities at the expense of recess or free child-centered play.

The development from ages 3 to 5 is extremely important. A number of research projects (such as this study by the American Academy of Pediatrics) have shown that taking kids to play at the park is not only benefits their physical and mental health, it gives children a chance to explore the mysteries of nature. Getting out your local playgrounds gives your child a chance to socialize and make friends with their peers, improving their communication skills and self confidence. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children and teach them about our environment and learn some fun facts yourself!

From climbing trees, to making dirt castles, there are so many ways to have some fun outdoors! Have your kids hunt for colorful leaves, rocks, and sticks to make their very own fairy castle. Or just play a simple game of leap frog! There’s no limit to the fun and games you can have when you’re under the open sky with some friends and family.

National Parks Week (April 21-29) is right around the corner, and there’s all kinds of fun for Junior Ranger visitors at a number of parks for kids to learn, explore and help out. Our national and state parks are the perfect place to give you and the family a chance to get our in the Spring sunshine and play the day away!

What is the best kids’ activity you’ve ever experienced at a park? Please share and let us know! And have fun in the sun…just don’t forget your sunscreen 🙂