The Link Between Play and Learning

children drawing on easelFrom birth to adolescence, constructive play is vital to most aspects of children's intellectual, emotional, social, and physical development. Consequently, play prepares children for academic learning - as they begin their school years and at each step along the way. Ultimately, play prepares children for rewarding adult lives. Many experts believe that adult personality may very well have its foundation in the play of the child.

Through constructive play, children expand their intelligence - their knowledge and understanding of the world around them. Play is a testing ground for language and reasoning skills - a laboratory for learning to connect to challenges children face in school, such as literacy, math, and science concepts.

Constructive play stimulates the imagination - encouraging creative problem solving and providing opportunities for accomplishments that help children develop confidence, self-esteem, a sense of their own strengths and weaknesses, and a positive attitude toward learning.

These are the tenets of emotional well being. Where would any of us be today without the ability to imagine - to 'paint' a picture of the future we want and the steps we need to take to get there? Where would we be without the desire to continue learning and the skills to overcome obstacles throughout our adult years? Constructive play encourages children to fully realize their potential - in school and beyond.

Constructive play is also a catalyst by which children learn to develop relationships with others. Through play, children learn to take the perspective of another; they learn self-control and the ability to take turns, negotiate, compromise, and work out conflicts. In fact, studies show that children who play make-believe or games with rules are more empathetic, less physically aggressive and more cooperative with other children and adults - essential behaviors that help children succeed in school throughout life.

Through play, children develop gross motor skills (physical mobility and muscle control) and fine motor skills such as eye-hand coordination - a critical precursor to reading and writing skills. Equally important, play helps make learning fun! Play fuels children's imagination and sparks creativity, making the learning journey pleasurable and joyous.