The Benefits of Play

Article by Marco Delbecchi

 

In a recent journal, Pediatrics called on pediatricians to encourage the families they serve to bring back play time for children. Not only is this increase in play necessary for physical wellness the journal states, it also is important for the child’s social, emotional, and cognitive well-being (1). The call comes as a response to growing fear that most children are not enjoying enough play time, or time playfully learning, in their day. The articles cites, “a recent report found that 98 percent of children under 8 years old now have access to a mobile device at home, and the average time children spend on mobile devices tripled between 2013 and 2017, from 15 to 48 minutes per day” (1). These statistics represent one major factor in a child’s life that takes away from their ability to spend time playing or playfully learning and gaining the physical and mental benefits of these activities.

Beyond the basic benefits that play and playful learning exhibit, other benefits discussed in the article that children experience from these acts include play aiding in “brain building”, play increasing executive functioning skills, and play helping in development of social competencies.

The article also argues for the inclusion of guided play, in which a child acts on their own in a setting initiated by an adult. This type of play, as opposed to that of free play, is said to benefit the child in “learning to learn” skills such as academic and language skills (1). One avenue for children in Brown County that promotes spending more time engaged and being socially interactive through guided play is community-based mentoring, made possible by many of Achieve Brown County’s community partner organizations. The fulfilling relationship that is allowed through a community-based mentoring match ensures the existence of play time for the child aiding in their overall healthy development and wellness.

 

(1) https://www.brookings.edu/blog/education-plus-development/2018/08/21/a-prescription-for-play/

(2) https://www.save.ca/community/when-is-a-child-old-enough-to-play-outside-alone/