Play in general is great for children. It provides the opportunity for exploration and natural, independent learning. However, for the purposes of this discussion we will be focusing on physically active play and its benefits.
Physically active play is defined as “any form of exercise or movement as essential for children’s growth and development”.
So what benefits does this kind of play have:
- Development of motor skills (coordination, balance, etc.)
- Use of senses to gain understanding of self and the world
- Encouragement of healthy, active lifestyle
- Development of confidence in one’s own abilities
- Development of creative skills
- Learning about one’s own emotionality and how to self-regulate
- Development of perceptual and cognitive skills
- Development of active learning, team building, and problem solving skills.
Physical play also has benefits for the developing brain…
- Active play in the early years promotes the connects of neural pathways in the brain, which are rapidly forming at this stage in life.
- The more areas of the brain that are stimulated and used in the childhood, the greater the neurogenesis (creation of neural connections) in those areas.
Lastly, active play has a number of specific physical benefits
- Maintenance of healthy weight and encouragement of physical activity throughout life
- Strengthen muscles and the cardiovascular system
- Develops coordination
- And it’s fun!